The Austrian corporation Hirsch Servo Group is the Europe sponsor of the 2500 kilometres Cycle4Europe bicycle event, which is arranged by Swedish Loza Foundation in support of the most vulnerable people in some of the poorest countries in Europe.
“Loza Foundation helps people in countries not far from Austria. We are proud and happy to support their work and Cycle4Europe,” says Harald Kogler, CEO, Hirsch Servo Group.
The Austrian corporation Hirsch Servo Group is the Europe sponsor of the bicycle event Cycle4Europe, which is arranged by the Loza Foundation and BEWiSynbra. During two intense weeks the riders will bike 2500 kilometres from Skopje, North Macedonia, to Varberg, Sweden. The stages run through some of the poorest areas in Europe to highlight the Loza Foundation and raise money for their charity work.
“Many people live in inhumane conditions in countries not far from here. The Loza Foundation work to change that and they have opened our eyes,” says Harald Kogler, CEO at Hirsch Servo Group’s office in Glanegg in southern Austria.
Hirsch Servo Group produce EPS insulation and packaging as well as EPS machinery. Their sponsorship will be extra visible during the Cycle4Europe stages through Austria and Germany.
“Our products are sold in seven countries and we have 20 production plants in Central Europe. We also work closely with BEWiSynbra from northern Europe, so we really look forward to be a part of Cycle4Europe,” says Harald Kogler.
“To have a major corporation as the Hirsch Servo Group as a sponsor is great. It shows that our work affects everybody, regardless of where in Europe they live. Through Cycle4Europe we can make more people aware of the conditions for some the poorest citizens in Europe and raise money to help orphaned children and many more,” says Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation.
“What Loza Foundation does is amazing. We are happy to support them,” says Martin Bekken, CEO of BEWiSynbra Circular.
He is also one of the founders of Team BEWiSynbra, that cycles for different charities every year. During Cycle4Europe the team is re-enforced by the World and European triathlon championship medalist Jonas Colting and Tommy Prim, runner up of Giro d’Italia, who will join on the last stage.
More orphanages, a tolerable situation for disabled people and resources to be made available for women suffering from the effects of the war in Balkan. But most of all we want the opportunity to highlight the situation of the most vulnerable people in Europe and give them a future without stigmatisation. This is the reason why a group of cyclists have chosen to embark on the 2,500 kilometres long route from Skopje in North Macedonia to Varberg in Sweden and participate in the Cycle4Europe charity event.
“Ultimately, this is about creating more humane living conditions and preventing unnecessary suffering”, Sabina Grubbeson explains, founder of Loza Foundation and initiator of Cycle4Europe.
On 5 September, the cyclists will line up on the starting line in Skopje, North Macedonia, ready to tackle the 2,500 kilometres that will bring them to Varberg and the west coast of Sweden. The journey is a part of the charity event called Cycle4Europe, which is arranged by Loza Foundation and BEWiSynbra in aid of the most vulnerable people living in the four poorest countries of Europe according to the Human Development Index (HDI) of the UN; namely North Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldavia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
“We hope that this fundraiser will lead to fewer children and adults having to sleep rough. That they will be able to avoid criminality, be able to dress warmly and have shoes to wear. Many of us forget that there is extreme poverty just a cycle ride away from anywhere in Europe. You don’t have to travel to other continents to experience social and economic misery.”
Sabina Grubbeson brings to light that the inhabitants of this region lack appropriate care, education and financial opportunities. And as disabled people are more often than not refused state aid (financial support from the government/authorities), families are forced to send their children off to institutions with inhumane living conditions.
“Life at an institution may be compared to human storage. Children and adults are not allowed out. They are not receiving any schooling and in some cases, individuals are locked up and left lying in their own faeces. Many have to endure horrendous living situations”, Sabina Grubbeson explains.
The Cycle4Europe project was realised when a Norwegian company called BEWiSynbra started to pay attention to Loza Foundations’ work to promote socially sustainable development. Main sponsor BEWiSynbra now funds the support vehicles, overheads as well as the accommodation and travel expenses for the cyclists.
“As BEWiSynbra is covering all the overheads, all other donations can be transferred in full to our operations and our ongoing work. I am extremely grateful for everything BEWiSynbra does.
For instance, 1,000 SEK equal a child’s yearly consumption of clothes, shoes and activities that counteract alienation.”
Loza Foundation is a charity foundation that works to improve the lives and current living standards of vulnerable people living in some of the poorest parts of Europe. It was established in 2017 and has been granted a so-called 90-account by the Swedish Fundraising Control.
Last winter, Loza Foundation donated clothes, shoes and warm winter jackets to the children at orphanages “25 May” and “11 October”. We are now keen on making their dream for a bike of their own come true too.
“It means a lot to the children, both from a sense of freedom as well as giving them confidence. A chance to feel just like anyone else despite the traumas many of them have had to go through”, says Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation.
In December 2018, Loza Foundation started their first aid project specifically aimed at children and this was at the “25 May” orphanage in Skopje, North Macedonia and we quickly went on to the next orphanage called “11 October” in the same area.
“The children were encouraged to write to us and tell us what they wished for. Many dreamt of having a bicycle of their own. For some, this was stated right at the top before anything else. One little boy wrote: ‘I have always dreamt of having my own bike, I really do need one. When I cycle, I feel free and happy and a bike would make me feel like I was just like all the other kids”, Sabina Grubbeson describes.
Last winter, Loza Foundation was in a position to give each child €100 to buy clothes and shoes with and they went shopping with staff members and volunteers. This autumn, we are finally making the big dream come true and donating a bicycle to each individual child. Every child, in total 50 of them between 5 and 18 years old, will be supplied with their very own bike, helmet and lock.
“This donation has been made possible thanks to a fundraiser initiative that Martin Bekken and Jonas Olofsson at BEWiSynbra, from our charity event Cycle4Europe, have come up with and implemented. I cannot begin to describe how fantastic this is.”
The idea is that the children will receive their bicycles the day before Cycle4Europe will start in Skopje, North Macedonia, where hundreds of cyclists will set off on their route. The event will span 2,500 kilometres, all the way from Skopje to Sweden, and the purpose is to highlight Loza Foundations’ work for the most vulnerable people in the poorest countries of Europe.
“The children at these orphanages have had a horrible ordeal and they are sadly not included in the normal Macedonian society. They don’t have the natural support of parents and family and therefore need extra support and guidance”, says Sabina Grubbeson.
When Loza Foundation talked to staff members and counsellors at the orphanages, they described the need these children have of being able to channel their sense of betrayal and deceit that the neglect has caused and that positive elements in their lives are utterly important for the children to have faith in the future. Because of this, Loza Foundation will not stop at bikes. They will also strive to present the children with the opportunity to enjoy different sort of activities.
“We will get to tag along for a longer period, see how the children and support them in their own individual needs. When they turn 18, they are no longer allowed to stay at the orphanage and we obviously want them to be mentally strong and comfortable in their own skin by then so that they can find a place in the Macedonian society.”
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The work that Loza Foundation carries out coupled with the article in the Swedish Newspaper Göteborgs-Posten was a real eye-opener for the Minister of Social Welfare.
The correspondent trip to Institution Demir Kapija in North Macedonia turned into a series of articles in Göteborgs-Posten, which highlighted poor conditions and invoked strong reactions not least within Macedonian authorities that have now decided that the institution is to be refurbished immediately.
“This is proof that our work really does make a difference”, says Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation.
In January 2019, Sabina Grubbeson travelled to North Macedonia with a reporter team from Göteborgs-Posten with an aim of telling the rest of the world about the unbelievable deprivation that the disabled people at the institution in Demir Kapija has to cope with. The result is the article series called “This is where the weakest in Europe live in deprivation“, which has attracted a lot of attention and is nominated to Wendelapriset 2019 (the Wendela award) for the best social report of the year.
The Macedonian authorities are reacting too. Minister of Social Welfare, Mila Carovska, tells Göteborgs-Posten that the series of articles was a definite eye-opener and that they will start renovation work straight away, tackling the toilets, damaged flooring, installing proper lighting as well as repairing internal and external walls.
Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation, is both pleased with and relieved by this decision.
“This will improve the living conditions considerably for these people. It has been difficult for us to help as the needs have been vast and we have not been given permission to renovate. The new situation will give us breathing space and allow us to take care of the most pressing needs”, she explains.
The lack of fully-functioning toilets has meant that the residents at the institution have relieved themselves on the floor, in the dorms and stairwells.
“Refurbishing floors, walls, doors and windows will make it easier to keep the institution clean. There will not be a constant draught and the heat will remain inside the building during the winter. Making the electric installations secure and putting up lighting will also drastically improve the situation for both residents and staff members. In the past, they have had problems with ceiling fires and water leakage that has travelled down electric wires and ended up inside the fuse box.”
The renovation work is supposed to be finished in the latter part of 2019.
Sabina clarifies: “Thanks to the renovations, we will now be able to provide the residents with clothes and personal hygiene articles in an environment and not be afraid they will be ruined in the poor conditions. The donated items will last and will work. Refurbishing the institution will also have a positive impact on the staff. They will be able to work in more humane conditions, which in turn will have a ripple effect when it comes to how they care and treat the residents.”
In a couple of weeks, Loza Foundations plans to deliver individual lifts to the institution at Demir Kapija. Right now it takes two, sometimes three people to get a resident out of bed, which means many of the individuals living at the institution have never even made it out of bed.
“We want to make this work so that residents, despite disabilities, will have freedom. I have questioned why the state does not supply lifts to the institution, but I have not been given any answers. The problem is most probably linked to administrational issues, e.g. that such a purchase ends up between the separate jurisdictions of two ministers, in this case, the Social Ministry and the Ministry for Health and Healthcare, and that no one has put their foot down in this matter. All too often, this is where the problem arises; someone has to defend the human rights and highlight the needs of the people that are unable to defend and stand up for themselves. ”
The idea is also to change one or two rooms where the sole focus will be rehabilitation.
“We have found the residents and the staff to have a need to arrange their day around something, to do something together which inspires everyone to treat each other with caring warmth. I hope this will lead to more positivity and inspiration.”
The renovation of Institution Demir Kapija will enable Loza to improve the residents’ living conditions this year, rather than having to wait. That said, the foundation still needs further donations in order to give everyone the help they need.
“We rely on contributions and donations to maintain our aid work. I, therefore, want to encourage everyone, individuals as well as companies, to sign up for our monthly donation package. A small sum of money every month might not make all that much of a difference for us in a welfare state, but for a person in North Macedonia, it could literally mean the world”, says Sabina Grubbeson.
The news of the refurbishment at Demir Kapija gives Loza Foundation new strength and energy to carry on defending the basic, human rights of individuals at institutions and orphanages in regions such as North Macedonia, Bosnia and other countries in Europe.
“This proves that you can change the world by creating support, lobbying and strengthening the belief that every single one of us can impact and improve the lives of other humans if we stick together. I am very impressed by Evalis Björk and photographer Robin Aron at Göteborgs-Posten, who spoke up for the individuals that do not have a voice and conveyed the situation of the residents at Demir Kapija with such empathy.”
Rättshaveri att papperslösa barn i Nordmakedonien nekas skolgång, det strider mot Barnkonventionens artikel 28. Loza Foundation kämpar för att lokala myndigheter ska agera, läs pressmeddelandet här: