Solidarity at the CIHEAM during the pandemic of COVID-19
As the Mediterranean region was strongly hit by the pandemic of COVID-19, there have been many actions of solidarity in various countries, especially to support the health care workers who were on the front line to save lives. Within the CIHEAM, expressions and actions of solidarity have helped the CIHEAM community keep spirits high during these hard times.
As an intergovernmental organisation, the CIHEAM places cooperation and solidarity among its core values. Therefore, the CIHEAM wished to express institutional solidarity among its staff members and students through a series of initiatives. Firstly, early March, in line with the Directors of the CIHEAM Institutes, the Secretary General decided to set up a new corporate group on the COVID-19, made up of representatives from all the Institutes and led by the General Secretariat, to closely follow-up the sanitary situation and to share all kinds of tips. Then, on 22 March, the President of the CIHEAM Governing Board and the Secretary General published a joint communication to state their support to all members of the CIHEAM community during the pandemic. They also kept the Delegates of the Member States regularly informed.
On 15 April, the Delegates of the Member States to the Governing Board* unanimously agreed upon a joint proposal made by the Secretary General and the President of the CIHEAM Governing Board to use the reserve funds of the General Secretariat to help the four Institutes cover additional costs brought about by the pandemic.
Besides, as lockdown was enacted all over the Mediterranean countries, sometimes keeping people away from their families and their homes, the CIHEAM expressed solidarity in a concrete way directly with the students who were stressed or wanted to fly back home. Psychological support was provided first at the CIHEAM Chania. The same service was offered to students at the CIHEAM Bari, but luckily no request was received, while students at the CIHEAM Montpellier were provided with phone numbers of psychologists. The staff at the CIHEAM Montpellier and the CIHEAM Zaragoza expressed their solidarity by helping students to pay their flight tickets to go back home. Grants are being extended everywhere as many students were expected to stay longer in the CIHEAM host countries in order to complete their postponed examinations.
The corporate group on COVID-19 also shared information about the repatriation process launched by several countries so that the CIHEAM students could benefit from it if they wished. Solidarity was also observed between students themselves. At the CIHEAM Zaragoza, some of themsent support videos and messages calling for compliance with the preventive measures against COVID-19, which were shared on social media. Atthe CIHEAM Bari, several students who were fasting during the holy month of Ramadan prepared food and shared it with other students to create a cheerful atmosphere. The CIHEAM Chania set up a radio station to help students stay connected with each other during lockdown and to get access to information.
Last but not least, the CIHEAM could count on the solidarity of other private or public actors of the neighbourhood. Above all, the CIHEAM Chania and the CIHEAM Montpellier have been able to rely on their usual local suppliers to never run short of masks and hand sanitizers, which are useful to fight the spread of the virus. The CIHEAM Bari will remain deeply grateful to the 2 organisations, namely the Civil Protection Department and the private firm COSMOBRAND, for their donations of up to 25 000 masks since early April (three deliveries). Thanks to them, students and staff at the CIHEAM Bari never lacked masks even when supply was short and demand was high in Italy. The CIHEAM Bari even donated some of these masks to the CIHEAM Chania and the CIHEAM Montpellier, where students also live on campus. These actions have highlighted the fact that the CIHEAM Institutes are well-identified and highly appreciated in their environment.
*The Governing Board is made up of representatives of the 13 Member States of the CIHEAM: Albania, Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey.
Focus : The Students council at the CIHEAM Chania is grateful for the support provided by the CIHEAM community
Dear President and Secretary General of CIHEAM,
On behalf of the students at CIHEAM MAI Chania, we would like to thank everyone who helped us to remain safe since the start of the COVID pandemic.
We are truly grateful for the help and support that we have been given over the last three months, by CIHEAM and the staff of MAI Chania, especially the people who provided us with our daily meals and hygiene services. We also extend our gratitude to the students themselves, who showed exceptional patience throughout this period, by following all the new rules and regulations that were imposed on everyone in Greece, which all had a positive effect on the way that Greece handled the COVID crisis. This experience has taught us all lifetime lessons.
The online courses were definitely the students' favourite experience during this crisis, as they discovered a new way of knowledge that helped them stay productive during these difficult times.
We hope that we will be returning to our countries soon, when the borders are open once again, and we look forward to a brighter future where people are more conscious of unity and solidarity towards each other.
CIHEAM / MAI CHANIA STUDENTS COUNCIL