By Alen Novit, President of DKC – Društvo Kultlab Celje
In the beginning months of 2020, when the world slowly fell into the COVID – 19 virus crisis, no one really knew what such a situation would mean for states, organisations and individuals – the response from different actors was different – more or less serious, while in the meantime, the virus took over the whole world, and the restriction measures in individual countries started to create a change of routine in our daily lives …
Kultlab Celje Society (DKC as original), otherwise as organisation with many different activities, decided to focus its operation on topics which came out as really important in this time, as priorities have to be set on activities that became crucial in days after it was obvious that COVID – 19 would have a significant impact on broader society in our country. As one of the founders of national food bank (SIBAHE – slovenian foodbank), DKC has otherwise an every day responsibility and obligations to be active in SIBAHE humanitarian tasks, which becomes even more clear and important with the present crisis – in these days it becomes a fact that members of DKC will have an opportunity to offer their voluntary contribution to broader society, helping those who are most affected with the current situation.
At SIBAHE, in the beginning days and weeks of the crisis (when the virus was still not here), we continued to operate our normal daily obligations and activities, while we were expecting that with new restriction measures from our state (every while there were new measures came in function), the state apparatus will slowly take over and also care for those who are the most in need. But the story was different … the state apparatus focused more on health issues and restricting measures about movement (with the goal of preventing the virus spreading), while at the same time, the humanitarian activities were left, in the majority of cases, to charities.
In the meanwhile, SIBAHE has never stopped with its operation, and continue with its activities from the beginning of the crisis until the present time. While in the beginning, the general opinion within the organisation was (as with the general public), that the crisis will last a limited time, when now, in present time, no one really knows what exactly to expect from the current situation, and it could happen, the crisis will continue to be present across the world, for weeks or months. In the beginning therefore, our activities were more or less as usual, while quickly (after the first restriction measures) the situation became more serious, and the need for our activities become higher – in that matter, currently we need to respond for upcoming demands more frequently and (re)distribute the food aid more often. Just a few days after restricting measures, we started to receive requests for aid from organisations who are also active in the virus crisis period (some of them stopped working during this period), from families and individuals, and from Civil Protection Offices (CPO) inside individual municipalities. What is important inside this topic is the fact that we are receiving requests for food from new organisations (who are not our partners yet), and from significant amounts of individual people and families who are asking for help (due to the fact that some organisations stop work, or they become jobless over this time of crisis), besides CPOs, who are a structure formed and functioning just during different time of crises (and no one knows how long they will be active, so they could continue to be an important partner in the future).
Generally, we can claim, that we have more demand for food aid than before the crisis (for the moment about 30% more), so we have had to increase our activities in all ways, also in a way to secure more food, so that we are able to deliver more quantities to other charities and to people in need.
Presently, we are therefore continuing with our redistribution activities, on an even higher level than before, and we will continue with our work without interruptions (throughout all the crisis period or until we will be stopped by restriction measures) – our last activities were in connection with the Easter holidays, when we continued with our practice to give a gifts to big families with four or more children (volunteers deliver larger packages of food to their homes).
However, our biggest problem is in connection with protective equipment against viral infection, as it is very hard to get appropriate items from the government side, so one of the solutions we are using now are home made (sewed) masks, made by some of our volunteers.
Another important issue is the higher requirement for food, so we are expecting that demand for food aid will be even higher in the following days, so to find any additional resources of food will be a challenge for us in the near future (as well as to increase our capacities along with that).
We are also missing more government support to charities who are performing their humanitarian tasks daily, as the majority of supporting measures are mainly focus on the economy and public sector.
Currently, the DKC members are focused on SIBAHE humanitarian tasks, while the other activities will be started as soon as crisis situation will allow us to act on a more normal level, a level to which we are used to working before the virus changed our daily lives. In any case, regardless to the current crisis situation, we are still there with our activities for those in need.
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