For 60 years the Order of Malta’s Colombian Association has been serving the most vulnerable communities
2017 was an important year for the Sovereign Order of Malta’s Colombian Association: besides celebrating its 60 years of medical and social assistance to the sick, the disadvantaged, rural communities and the elderly, the year ended with a positive balance in terms of projects carried out and humanitarian aid distributed. In 2017 some 110 thousand people benefitted from the activities organized in 22 departments of the country – which counts 32 in all – and medicines were distributed to the needy.
In Guajira, Cundinamarca, Magdalena Medio, Choco, Bolivar and Atlantico, the association has donated hot meals to some 2,270 children and medicines to people in difficulty, the elderly, prisoners without healthcare, the disabled, HIV-positive patients and indigenous communities.
Since 1957 – when the association became active – dozens of projects have been developed thanks also to the solid diplomatic relations established with Colombian authorities during the same year, and to subsequent cooperation agreements, such as that signed in 2002 allowing the Order to import medicine donations without incurring customs duties. The Order of Malta was thus able to participate in important rescue efforts after some of the nation’s most devastating tragedies, such as the Popayan earthquake in 1983, the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in 1985 and the violent quake that struck Colombia in 1999. In the year just ended, the Order of Malta was also engaged in helping people engulfed by an avalanche of mud in south-east Colombia, causing almost 320 deaths.
Alongside the emergency relief activities there are also assistance projects addressed to the most disadvantaged population groups. In the capital Bogota the Scalabrini health centre, performing around 8,000 medical examinations last year alone, offers dental and general medicine treatments to the elderly, pregnant women and children as well as offering aid to the homeless and displaced people, coming mainly from neighbouring Venezuela.