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Romania: Helping the vulnerable through the crisis

Order of Malta Relief Organisation continues its support programmes

Cluj-Napoca, 25 March 2020

Fomer times: an after school programme, Romania

The Romanian relief organisation of the Order of Malta* has implemented a range of measures in order to fight the effects of the corona virus pandemic.

All the programmes involving meeting up with the beneficiaries – particularly, the isolated and elderly lonely and underprivileged children – have been put on hold. The Romanian Government has already introduced a state of emergency, with a strict night time curfew starting last Monday and since Wednesday 25 March the country is in full lockdown, with the army deployed to help enforce it.

The organisation’s secretary general, Ferenc Tischler, describes his team’s current activities:

Care centres

Three of our care centres are still managing to operate, following strict hygiene measures: a residential centre in Dorobanti and one in Timisoara for the elderly, and a night emergency centre for the homeless in Sfantu Gheorghe. With the new restrictions and because these people are in the highest risk category (most are over 65, with pre-existing conditions and low immunity), we have now opened the night emergency centre, and a day centre with activities for them. Up to now they have received only one cold meal in the evening (when they arrived at the centre), but starting on Monday, we will offer them three meals a day, including a warm meal at lunch (with the help of a school kitchen).

Romania – care for the elderly

Ongoing food distribution in five cities

We are delivering food packages/bundles to old people. The parcels contain bread and milk, and once a week we bring a package with less perishable food, eg. fruits, cans, flour, oil, etc. These food distributions takeplace in Aiud, Arad, Cluj-Napoca, Satu Mare and Sf. Gheorghe, in cooperation with the local municipalities.

Programmes to support the disadvantaged

In Bucharest: we have had to suspend our education programmes for underprivileged children because they don’t have computers at home. For the elderly, we are making contact by phone, offering counselling and comfort and, if needed in the future, we will bring them food and medicine.

In Satu Mare: we run a programme with 80 children. Our team has set up a home ‘after-school’ via the internet with 60 of them. For the 20 not in this programme, the team try to source old notebooks or PCs, so they can participate too.

In Aiud: almost all the 27 children in the after-school programme are also organised for our ‘home-school/home-after-school’ programme via the internet.

In Sfantu Gheorghe: we have many children in our regular programmes. We now very briefly visit them once or twice per week to see how they are. But more important, because these children have had parents working abroad, many of whom have now returned home, we go to them and tell them what they have to do, what rules and regulations they have to comply with now, where to officially register after their return.

Hot lines

Last, but not least, we have hotlines installed in Cluj-Napoca, Satu Mare and Sfantu Gheorghe , in cooperation with the local municipalities and other relief organisations, where we respond to the callers, give recommendations, indications, take their requests and try to solve them.

*The Order of Malta Relief Organisation in Romania (SAMR) works in 26 locations with 16 branches in Transylvania and Bucharest. With their 1000 volunteers and 100 staff, they run over 100 social projects for 4000 beneficiaries, with a particular focus on disadvantaged children and elderly poor. 

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.