The following report was given and voted but the members present at the AGM of Aider-Help&Hope this week. Many thanks to all those present and who contributed to the interesting discussions.
Activity Report 2021 2021, the second year of the pandemic has, like the previous one, been marked by a succession of restrictions on sociability, obstacles to travel and meetings. These obstacles have, as in 2020, limited our activities, but they have also focused the association on what constitutes its legal object, and which defines it, namely material and moral support for people displaced by war, persecution or famine, without distinction of origin or race. Without wishing to prejudge the future, nor wishing to be pessimistic, the beginning of the year 2022, which is already well under way, strengthens us in the conviction that we are more than ever essential, even if the governments are not as absent in the crisis which is currently unfolding under our eyes as in the years 2015 to 2021. Our response to the covid pandemic, already in progress in 2020, was enhanced by winning a grant of 8600€ in April from the company KKR to supply hygiene related items to the people living in the jungle outside the main Samos camp. Thanks to our permanent volunteer in Greece we were able to buy and distribute efficiently masques, savon, alcohol, covid tests. We were also able to restart a regular sending of sanitary pads to the women in the camps. Although our response to the pandemic was very intense, we did not lose sight of one of our primary objectifs, aid towards the integration of refugees. We have a lasting relationship with a small language school in Greece, There You Go, which provides English lessons in order to pass the internationally recognised Pearson certificate. This qualification is a great help when looking for work in Greece or elsewhere. Three scholarships were offered in the autumn and the pupils passed their exams in December. Several excellent pieces of news came during the year from our refugee friends. All the members of our Syrian family in Lauzerte received full asylum, another step on the long road to independence. The great advantage of working hard and learning the language quickly was illustrated by Hazem Al Atrash, who, having passed his French test in Toulouse started work at the EHPAD in Lauzerte and Shirin Ahmad, refugee from Syria, who came to us in 2017, passed her Masters 2 in Chemistry at Montpellier university and now has a permanent job! All through the year we continued to send essentiel items to the camps in Greece and winter items to our partner Danika in Paris to distribute to the homeless. These were either items that were donated, or else bought locally when needed. Michel and Jacky went to Greece twice during the year with a car load of donations for the Ritsona camp. They also visited the camp in Samos, met the manager to arrange for the planting of trees in the new camp and met some of the refugees in the jungle camp outside the official camp. Sanitary restrictions have limited our ability to get together, which is obviously painful since the joy of meeting around music and meals strengthens the bond that connects us all around a common ideal. The life of an association depends on these interactions of its members, not only working together towards a common goal but also on the pleasure of meeting in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. In 2021, therefore, we were not able to meet so often, but in July we had a lovely double stall at the Lauzerte vide-grenier, in August Jeff Price’s poetry/story-telling/music event was a great success, in September Joanna Goodale gave us an enchanted evening of original and classical piano and in October the quartet Opus 82, played a wonderful musical journey through Baroque Europe. The generosity of these artists and our members of whom the generosity has been even greater and more remarkable during these difficult times, has enabled our work continue satisfactorily! A special thaks goes to the Irene fondation for their very generous support every year and also to the municipality of Lauzerte for their continuing support.
The terrible beginning to 2022 means many more millions of refugees are arriving in Europe bereft of everything. Already at the end of February, we started to search for ways to respond, determining where the most needed items were and the best way to deliver them. The first sendings were winter clothes for the refugees arriving on the Romanian border, and the most recent concern medical aid, hygiene items and dry foods to hospitals inside Ukraine itself. The generosity of the response by the people of Lauzerte and surrounding villages has been overwhelming and we have sorted and packed over two hundred boxes of donations. Many thanks also go to Ecomarché and the Lauzerte pharmacy who enabled us to buy items at cost price. However, in spite of the new challenge that the war in Ukraine makes, we will certainly not abandon the needs of the people we are already helping, those in Greece, France and Afghanistan in particular. Our projects continue and increase and much energy and help will be required from us all to respond efficiently to this new situation.