Neighbors – a platform to help the elderly during coronavirus

Szomszédok.ro (neighbors) is the name of the platform reaching out to the Hungarian elderly in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca. “Concerning the situation created by the pandemic, we are starting an initiative called ‘Help goes to your doorstep,’ which will reach out to help those elderly who are the most at risk these days. Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca is a big city; the novelty of the concept lies within the fact that we find help locally and also strengthen the relations among neighbors,” said Botond Talpas, the man behind the idea.

According to the initiators, the szomszedok.ro platform offers solutions to multiple problems, including one that we are facing nationwide today: The elderly are going out and running errands and have a daily routine because there is no one to help them. “We cannot expect the elderly to stay at home if they cannot get daily food and pay their bills. By solving their problems, we are also protecting them. My grandmother, for example, is very old; she is 94 years old and lives by herself. If her family and neighbors would not help, she would have issues solving her daily problems. She has relatives in the city, but not everyone is that lucky,” says Talpas. The other benefit of the platform is that it solves the problems locally, bringing back the tradition of neighbors lending a hand to each other. Talpas considers this important because when your ability to leave your house is limited, the safest way to help is if neighbors stick together. “We ask everyone, if they know elderly in their neighborhood, notify us, and we will search for them. We should know about all people, especially those 65 and above, who need help in the next few weeks.” he added.

The Kolozs/Cluj County Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, also known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ, also joined the initiative.

“On the other side, there are the locals who are able to help those in need. Anyone can join the group of ‘helpers.’ We encourage especially those who would be going out anyway to shop and would not have difficulty buying some basic food items for their neighbors as well,” said Botond Csoma, the president of the Kolozs/Cluj County Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania and member of parliament.

“At the same time, the platform is a database that can be used later on in case the emergency situation worsens. We can also inform the municipality which cases need their help as well. The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania undertook the operation of the platform; coworkers of the Kolozs/Cluj County RMDSZ are taking calls from those in need and also calls from those offering to help between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. We’re also trying to inform Hungarian people of this initiative with a regular briefing in Hungarian, which can be read on the korona.rmdsz.ro page,” stated Géza Antal, the executive director of the Kolozs/Cluj County Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania.

The development of the szomszedok.ro platform was undertaken by a Kolozsvár based company, Limitless Diversity Development, free of charge.


Author: Blanka Székely