Roman's COVID-19 Appeal: Support Migrants in Panama
I am very uneasy about this message, but I feel that I have to do something, even if this is not going to change the word, and even if some of you may be fed up with my never ending pleas and appeals…
The COIVD 19 is a scary thing to many of us… but it affects some of us more than the others. We are all worried, but some of the people are hit much, much harder than the others, also economically.
I know live in Panama, the country where there are thousands of refugees and poor migrants from Venezuela, Colombia, Central American countries, you name it. Many of these people come here and work without papers. For more than a week, like many other countries, Panama has introduced tough measures to limit the spread of the contamination. Like everywhere in the world, this means misery to lots of people, as they lose jobs temporarily or in some cases perhaps permanently. Waiters, taxi drivers, people doing ‘low paid jobs’ are the first one to take the hit… so far nothing different compared to other parts of the world. The Government of Panama is trying to mitigate some of the hardships, but these seem to be addressed to people having papers… Panamanian citizens, and residents with papers. While this is understandable, thousands of people, the already poor and vulnerable ones are left with nothing. The migrants (especially those without proper documents) are really left with nothing… and are desperate to find ways to survive and bring food to themselves and their families.
I am sure that in all of the places where you are, you may be confronted with similar stories. I am not expecting that you will be able to chip in, as you may have decided to help people closer to you, or you may be in trouble yourselves! This is absolutely okay, and it makes sense to concentrate on giving a hand to people nearby. This being written, if you were wanted to consider supporting the idea, this is what I am planning to do:
- I am setting aside 500 USD from my monthly income (until this situation stops, and as long as I can afford it) to help two refugee/destitute migrant families to meet ends during the crisis (this is on top to my commitment to the person that works for me as a cleaner, who will not be able to work for some time, but I will pay his salary),
- The families I will be supporting are of Jeison, his wife (sorry do not know her name) and his daughter of 8 months; as well as Julio, his wife Isa and their son Ignacio (3 years old). Jeison normally works as a guard in a private parking, next to my house. He is now told that the business is shut, and he will not be able to work for some time, and will not be compensated anything when he is out of work. His wife never worked, as she never managed to find anything, and she is looking after their new-born baby. Then Julio works in a concierge of the hotel, next to my house and he lost his job, as the hotel closed down for some time… and his wife Isa lost a job in an Italian restaurant, which was also forced to closed down. In all cases, the business that they work for are either unable to pay them compensation, as they are nearly bankrupt themselves, or unwilling to do so, as they are simply… take advantage of the undocumented migrants. At the moment, they are not eligible to receive any support from the government of Panama, for their status… Both Julio/Isa nor Jaison and his family already struggled substantially before the COVID crisis, now they are facing eviction from their homes, and they simply do not have anything do eat…
- I am planning to find more families like the ones referred to above, but I could only do that if there is more resources to do that. In case not enough funds are mobilised for taking care of additional families, the aim is to at least provide to the ones that I have identified in the most complete way,
- I can commit and promise that I will be as transparent and honest with your potential donations as humanly possible. If you want to participate however, it is a small project based on trust to a large extent. If you have reservations, and cannot or do not want to entrust in this action, it is ABSOLUTELY fine, and understandable. If you do however feel that you can and would like to help out, I would need to ask you to give me a degree of trust for managing the resources that you entrust to help the vulnerable migrant families here.
As I say, I am writing to you, as I think that there is an opportunity to offer a very much needed support to families/individuals, who are in major (hopefully short term) distress. The situation is that in order to survive, many of the migrants here will be pushed to debts (potentially wrecking their lives for a long time), or worse so to engage in coping-strategies that may be detrimental for their health, dangerous for themselves and their families. I do hope that once the worse is over, they will be able to resume their ‘normal’ activities and provide for their families (even if it takes time and will be gradual).
Once again, I know that the whole world is in despair, and you may be in trouble yourselves, or already be engaged in helping people around you. In fact, I think it is best and the most sensible that you first help vulnerable people around you! However, if you felt that you have some spare income, and believe/trust in my little project, please do consider joining in your forces!
We are all aware that this undertaking is not going to save the world, we may not even be able to make a lasting change in lives of the people that we temporary support, but I believe that it is worth giving it a try to help some individuals from a danger of slipping into the absolute despair from the already very difficult daily reality they live in Panama.
Whatever you decide, do write to me… it will be so good to hear from you and how you are coping and doing! It will be great to catch up!
Sending you all lots of love and strength in this challenging time!