2020 – A year like no other…
2020 has been a year like no other for MOAS. Whilst the operations we have undertaken within the last few years have comprised of an extensive variety of activities, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated challenges pushed and motivated us even further to adapt, innovate and engage in completely new forms of projects.
With the end of 2020 upon us, we are looking back at what MOAS did throughout the year:
In Bangladesh, MOAS continued to support Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar. The year started off with great anticipation of plans to build on the success of our Flood and Water Safety Training in 2019 by expanding the project to incorporate the local fishing community. Unfortunately, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March caused the programme to be suspended. However, this did not stop our desire to assist the communities of the Cox’s Bazar region, and MOAS decided to redirect capacity to contributing to the COVID-19 emergency response.
In response to the substantial need for preventative measures to combat the spread of the virus in the densely populated region and its refugee camps, we established a mask making project. The aim of this initiative was to produce facemasks that would be distributed among front-line workers, local communities and Rohingya refugees across the region. Throughout the year, the project also served as a crucial livelihood for host community and refugee workers alike including local tailors and seamstresses, many of whom lost income sources due to COVID-19. Our original goal was to make 350,000 masks independently and a further 500,000 with other partners, however, thanks to the dedication of our fantastic team, we exceeded this figure and made an incredible total of 883,514.
In addition to the success of the Mask Making Project, in September, we were very excited to resume our Flood and Water Safety Training and instruct new volunteers to act as first responders in the event of water-related emergencies. This year’s course facilitated the training of 700 Rohingya refugees and 860 host community members in Ukhia and Teknaf. We were also able to fulfil our plans of enhancing the training to the local fishing community. Through directly engaging with fishermen in the Teknaf Peninsula, an area where fishing is a vital livelihood and food source, MOAS provided a basic maritime safety and rescue course, known as Water Safety and Livelihood Practice, to them. This year’s training equipped 800 fishermen with the necessary skills to perform rescues for anyone in distress at sea, be better prepared for emergency situations and work in increased safety.
In Malta, along with continuing our provision of social and physical support to migrants receiving care at the local hospital and providing supplies to the government’s migrant support office for new arrivals, the need for action to combat coronavirus-related challenges was also evident. Consequently, we established our second mask production initiative with the intention of expanding the provision of protective measures for the many asylum seekers and refugees across the island, the majority of whom live in centres in overcrowded conditions that facilitate the spread of the virus. We rallied together local tailors, seamstresses and any other willing volunteers to make homemade, reusable face masks. Our brilliant volunteers made an incredible 6,610 masks, which were then distributed to vulnerable groups all over the island. Then in August, in response to the endurance of the pandemic, we decided to initiate a second round of the project. Once again, the people of Malta demonstrated their community-spirit by getting back to their sewing machines and making a further 2,000 masks. The response to both rounds of the project was fantastic, and through the hard work, generosity and solidarity imparted to us by our volunteers, as well as several supporting local businesses, nearly 9,000 masks were made by over 140 volunteers.
In addition to the need for measures to combat the spread of the virus, ensuring access to education during this uncertain time was also a major concern. With the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak and enforcement of lockdown in Malta, several families living within the three open centres run by AWAS were experiencing difficulties in accessing remote learning resources on behalf of their children, due to a lack of access to electronic devices or an adequate internet connection. In response to this, we established our Malta Remote Learning Project with the aim to give these children access to remote education services through the purchase of technology for educational use. In total, we bought 40 tablets and modems with internet connections for families with school age children living in the centres.
Aid deliveries – Yemen and Somalia
Building on our shipments of pharmaceutical and famine relief supplies to vulnerable communities in Yemen in 2019, throughout 2020, we coordinated two more shipments of Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to our partners ADRA Yemen, as well as a shipment of 70,000 euros worth of pharmaceutical aid. This year, we expanded our reach even further, as we coordinated our first ever shipment of humanitarian aid to Somalia, a country also mired by pervasive conflict and extensive food insecurity. Once again partnering with Edesia Nutrition, we successfully shipped 25 tonnes of Plumpy Sup™, a nutritional supplement specially formulated for children suffering or at risk of suffering from acute malnutrition to our newest local partner International Medical Corps Somalia.
Artist–in–Residence – Kelly Be
Finally, in conjunction with our mission to advocate the need for safe and legal alternative pathways for those forced to take dangerous journeys in search of safety, during the second half of 2020, we have been working with our first ever artist–in–residence, Kelly Be. Kelly created 12 unique pieces of artwork, collectively known as Kaleidoscope of Solidarity, which were inspired by our Safe and Legal Routes campaign and designed to advocate, educate and raise awareness. The pieces were made available for purchase on 1st December, Giving Tuesday 2020, with all proceeds from their sale going towards our missions to help vulnerable communities around the world.
Looking to 2021
In the wake of the unprecedented difficulties that 2020 brought, we are extremely thankful for the dedication, solidarity and support shown by our terrific team of staff, contributing volunteers and donors, who made our responses to them possible and so effective. Throughout the next year, MOAS will continue to work to provide vital humanitarian services and aid to vulnerable communities across the world. With the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent announcement of our return to the Central Mediterranean to conduct search and rescue missions, 2021 promises to be another year of new opportunities and challenges.
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