A structure for the most vulnerable

Monday 7 December 2020

Since June, Caritas Luxembourg has been running a temporary structure in Liefrange which welcomes particularly vulnerable refugee individuals and families who need protection from COVID-19. Interview with Lena Hatto in charge of this structure.

WHY THIS STRUCTURE?

We opened this structure to isolate people or families who live in refugee shelters and who are particularly vulnerable from a health point of view, so that it was difficult to leave them in the shelter where they were. In refugee shelters, people live quite close to each other. It is difficult to keep great distances. During the first confinement, the ONA asked us to see which individuals and families were particularly vulnerable. We had drawn up a list of people and families with their respective pathologies. The Health Inspection then selected the people and families to be isolated at all costs.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ACCOMMODATED?

We are currently taking in 16 people from 5 different families. Some families have already left the home because other housing opportunities have been found for them. At one point we were full with 27 people from 8 different families. The pathologies represented are very diverse, but quite serious. I spend much of my time accompanying them through the health system, from one medical appointment to the next. Hence the importance of protecting them in particular.

HOW IS THE COHABITATION GOING?

Each family lives separately from the other. This is the aim of the structure. Of course this is not easy. The families feel very isolated, would like to have visits, to be able to cook together and share convivial moments. We don't organise any common activities, as is the case in other homes, in order to avoid any risk.  The only activities that are possible here are family walks in the beautiful surrounding forests and it must be said that the families have taken the opportunity to go out and get some fresh air. We have also provided each family with a tablet so that they can stay connected with their family and friends, but also continue their school learning.

AND THE CHILDREN? 

Children under the age of 12 are taught on site. There are 4 children from 2 different families. The children can play with each other, but cannot play with the children of the village in order to keep the security cordon. For the older children, they take the bus and go to their high school, which is not easy as the distances are great. 

HOW IS THE GENERAL ATMOSPHERE? 

The families are happy to live in such a beautiful setting and to have their health taken care of in these very difficult times. Having said that, like all refugees, they are anxious because they don't know what their future is made of. Some of them, who have been in Luxembourg for a year, are eager to integrate, but have not yet been able to do much because of Covid-19. They would like to settle down somewhere and finally start living. 

AND YOU, WHAT IS YOUR FEELING?

I do everything to make the families feel comfortable and safe here. To date we haven't had any positive cases in the structure. It's already a success. Having said that, I hope that Covid-19 will soon be more than a memory and that the families can continue on their path towards integration.

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