Aruba is entering a phase with extreme difficulties for families and this will only increase. Aruba Today was present in the Renaissance Convention Center where volunteers were preparing food packages. Gianaika van der Biezen, director of Fundacion Pa Nos Comunidad (FPNC), Aruba’s official food bank: “In the previous years we helped approximately 200 to 250 families monthly, families of different compositions from one up to five or more people. At this moment we have registered 3.200 families who need monthly help and still people keep signing up.”
Van der Biezen explains that the foundation needs all the help they can get. “These past weeks we start to see that registrations accumulate. Every day we receive approximately 20 to 30 new families that need support.” The foundation has the people that were already registered before the COVID-19 crisis and have always been the most vulnerable group in the community but now they add the people that lost their jobs, the elderly, the disabled, the young mothers and the illegals. “In the beginning people helped each other and maybe had some savings but now this is gone and they are on their own. Also the ones that took care of their old parents or disabled family members may have lost their jobs themselves, leaving both sides without any income. FPNC does not make any difference, we help all people in need.”
There are comments within the community about seeing people still partying and buying alcohol which does not show any poverty. This is a wrong assumption, says Van der Biezen. “We have many residents and you cannot only see the ones that are partying. The elderly, newborn moms, parents who both lost jobs … it is impossible for them to go out and party. The ones that do still have their jobs or any kind of income so I cannot relate to this wrong assumption.” She sees the poverty with her own eyes and the situation is reaching its top. “Do realize we have vulnerable groups who are hidden … we cannot forget about them. There are increasing mental problems as well and I hope that the community does not make assumptions based on social media posts.”
No baby milk
The support that FPNC is providing exists of food packages, delivery of hot meals and helping with clothing and house hold articles. Volunteers and companies help by jumping in to make this process easier and FPNC also works with approximately 45 other organizations to make all match. “The most urgent need is the baby powder milk and pampers. You can’t explain a baby that there is no milk and if you do not give the right milk they can get sick or get allergies,” Van der Biezen explains. FPNC works with donations and they get funding from the government. “But with the enormous increase in registrations we can use all the help we can get.” She would like to thank all volunteers because they are FPNC’s strength and also the donators, from the little to the big ones. “You all make us united. We are a small community and in this way we can help each other.”
General Manager at Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Paul Giel is facilitating FPNC with their convention room. “Renaissance and Wind Creek likes to be part of the community regardless. This opportunity occurred to us and we right away chipped in. Many on our island are in survival mood and it will be a long stretch. If we can help, why not.”
“I just want to make clear that everybody who is helping whether it is a businessman, volunteer, company whoever; it is important to create awareness that we can all contribute and be creative in giving a hand. It can be in time, money, products or in the case of renaissance by facilitating their space. It is important to see how people can help in different ways so please reach out to us,” is the conclusion of Francis Saladin, president of FPNC.
Check out the website of the food bank for more information and to donate: https://www.fpnc.aw/.