We’ve been watching the recent increase in risk and need with growing alarm. While we have all been affected by covid-19, it hits some of us so much harder than others. We know the more vulnerable include seniors, those with compromised immunity or other health challenges, those at risk of intimate partner violence, those with limited means, and of course the homeless. 

But among the vulnerable are also “new” Amsterdammers, who, even before this crisis, faced the many challenges of a marginal support network, limited Dutch or English language skills, insufficient economic resources, and reduced access to information or health resources. 

To address some of this crisis-driven need, we took a detour from our usual delivery circuit today to help fifty women in Amsterdam’s Zuidoost. Members of the All-Saints African Parish, many of these women are single mothers, with young children who depend entirely upon them. They often fit in more than one of the at-risk communities, as New Amsterdammers, being of sharply limited means, and so on. Many have been living under the radar in the Netherlands for a long time–some of them for two generations already. Primarily coming from West African countries, these fifty women used to be self-sufficient through hard work in the so-called parallel economy, in jobs such as un-declared cleaners, nannies, and snack bars workers.  

With the pandemic’s arrival, their income disappeared entirely and abruptly. As they are undocumented, they do not qualify for any social protections, however. This means they also do not receive any help from established support systems, such as food banks. They are now more vulnerable than ever to exploitation. Being no longer able to cover rent, several families have been evicted from their homes, often simply an (un-officially) sublet room in a shared apartment. We–and they–hope they are soon once again self-sufficient. In the meantime, covering their hygiene needs means one less thing they have to worry about in this crisis.

We delivered more than 400 boxes of tampons and pads to the parish today, containing over 5.000 tampons and pads.

Delivering needs-based solutions: this is what a car full of tampons and pads looks like!

More ways to support

While we are able to provide these fifty women with a three month supply of menstrual products, we hope to assist more, as these women are part of a known group of (currently) over five hundred other women in similar difficulties. If you have the means, consider helping us (or other organisations) to help them. It takes a village, as they say! If you want to find out more, drop us a line, we’re happy to discuss different forms of support. You can also check out some of these links: 

  • Human Aid Now is a small and active humanitarian group focused on the most urgent needs of refugees in transit in Europe
  • Digitale Buddy’s Warm WelkomFoundation is an initiative for newcomers who would like to connect with residents, and is aimed at people who can already (at least) speak a little Dutch or English (Dutch language website). 
  • Open Embassy is an online Dutch and English help desk and initiative which promotes mixed communities of newcomers and Dutch residents.
  • For those no longer in the asylum procedure, ASKV provides support for refugees. 
  • We Are 1 is a community-led support network in response to the COVID-19 crisis, offering conversations with community members, psychologists or career advice.
  • Stichting de Regenboog (The Rainbow Foundation) supports and encourages people living in poverty to actively take part in society.
  • HVO-Querido helps vulnerable people in Amsterdam, Diemen, Amstelveen and Haarlem, with guided housing, shelter, community care and other support.
  • For more ideas, here’s a Dutch Review article outlining some possible support options in the Netherlands.