In spite of the pandemic and its ensuing upheaval around the world, the Mount Athos Foundation of America (MAFA) shared an update on its efforts to support Mount Athos in its latest newsletter.
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, MAFA mentioned that it was able to respond quickly thanks to the many donations received this year. They immediately contacted Dr. Michael Christakis, founder of SAMM (Supporters of Athonite and Monastic Medicine) to find out how the organization could help. When Dr. Christakis informed them that the new Mount Athos Health Center in Karyes was in need of diagnostic equipment and supplies, including hospital-quality pulse oximeters and supplies needed for COVID testing, MAFA immediately provided funds to purchase what was needed to prepare the Health Center for the imminent pandemic.
On December 9, the Orthodox Times reported that, according to Mount Athos civil governor Athanasios Martinos, seven monks were being treated in hospital following diagnosis, one monk had passed away, and a number of others were being monitored with pulse oximeters at the Health Center in Karyes. MAFA provided the Mount Athos Health Center with the pulse oximeters and were distributed to the monasteries to meet the needs of the monks. As stated in the newsletter, “This is exactly the kind of quick emergency response that was envisaged when MAFA was established, and a perfect example of why, in their first fundraising campaign this year, they included among options for giving, contributions toward the creation of an endowed fund to address emergency needs.”
MAFA also stated that it had already begun working to provide the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra with a grant of $10,125 toward its footpaths rehabilitation project when a disastrous storm struck the Holy Mountain. The storm, widely reported in the press, caused major washouts while causing serious damage to the individual vehicular roads and associated footpath crossings of many of the monasteries, including Simonopetra. MAFA granted a fund to the monastery so that the Homeotech Environmental Management Company of Thessaloniki carries out the planning and design for the repairs and improvements.
MAFA also said that it was eager to provide emergency aid in a timely fashion since the increasing frequency in recent years of heavy storms on Mt. Athos alternating with forest fire threats.
As reported in MAFA’s first 2020 Newsletter cited by The National Herald, work is also continuing at the Holy Monastery of Grigoriou, partly funded by a MAFA emergency aid grant, on repairs and rebuilding following the fire that destroyed their electromechanical facility a year ago.
Thanks to the many generous contributions from their supporters, MAFA also was able in 2020 to make a modest contribution to the Friends of Mount Athos for funding the reconstruction of the historic Holy Axion Estin Cell.