The quarantine stories

Help vulnerable families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dear all,

today with you I want to share something that I do not usually share on my blog. However, it is something that is rather close to home and it is for a good cause. The stories that I am about to share with you have genuinely touched me and I have decided to reach out to you in the hopes that some of you would might also empathize the way I have.

The COVID-19 pandemics hit Macedonia – my home country – very seriously. In addition to the completely-filled hospitals, high infection and mortality rates, many people have also lost their job, or have lost the financial help provided by the state. As a result, many families struggle to get by or pay their bills. The electricity bills are the biggest problem as many people face the danger of a power shutdown.

Ways2Help aims at helping these people either by donating (usually clothes, laptops, but also food), volunteering, or my favorite – paying a bill for them. Ways2Help is a platform that was developed this year on the Startup Weekend Hackatron, where it also won the first place. The platform has initiated the campaign “Help a family – Pay a bill” which gives us the option to directly pay an electricity bill (or two, or three) for families which encounter serious difficulties. Many of them are single mothers – one of the most vulnerable category in Macedonia; some of them are ill and some are victims of family violence. You can read briefly about their stories on the web page and I have translated these descriptions for you in Step 2 below.

Since the first step is in Macedonian, I have decided to explain you in pictures, step by step, how you can pay a bill. Trust me it is SUPER EASY, and all steps after the initial page are also available in English.

How can you complete a payment?

  1. Follow the link to the Help a family – Pay a bill site and get here:The only two things you need for paying a bill are the CUSTOMER NUMBER/USER ID (right above) and the BILL NUMBER. Right next to them, there is a button that says КОПИРАЈ (Copy), so you can click on it to copy these numbers. Like this, you won’t need to type them yourself.
    • Note 1: You do not need to leave any personal info about yourself in order to complete a payment; you only will be asked to provide your email so that you receive a payment confirmation.
    • Note 2: 1€ is officially 61.77 denars, but your bank might be offering slightly worse conversion rate. However, I doubt that they will go worse than 59 or 60 denars for a euro.
  2. When you scroll through one of the five families than need help with their bills, other than seeing the unpaid bills and their amount, right under the User ID, you can read a bit about them. Here are the translations:
    1. Family: [URGENT] A single mother with 6 children has a debt for electricity which she pays in installments. She receives 8000 denars (~ 130€ per month) as a help from the state for having a third child. This is not enough for her to pay neither the overdue, nor the new bills, so the electricity is off.
    2. Family: [URGENT] A single mother with 2 children. Her husband has passed away. She has been given a few days to pay the electricity bills, but the plan is to turn off her electricity on Monday.
    3. Family: [URGENT] A mother and a son live a few months now without electricity. The mother has a brain tumor, the son takes care of her. The social help that they receive by the state is by no means sufficient to help them cover all of their expenses.
    4. Family: A single mother with 6 children. She cleans in other people’s homes and this is how she feeds her kids, but she cannot cover her electricity bills.
    5. Family: A single mother with 3 children, a victim of family violence. Her electricity has been shut off and now her children cannot follow the online classes.
  3. Choose which family you want to help by selecting Family 1-5 in the top menu.
  4. Decide which bill you want to pay. Click on the red field right next to the amount that says ПЛАТИ (Pay).
  5. You are then redirected to a page by the electricity provider and from here everything is pretty much self-explanatory. In the upper right corner you can select English support (EN). On the left hand side, you provide the customer number (user ID) and the invoice number of the invoice you want to pay. You can copy-paste them both from the previous page. After you click confirm, in the field total you need the see the amount.
  6. Click continue. You are taken to a page where you provide your email info as well as your credit card info. You confirm and that’s it. Within minutes you will have a confirmation on your email about the paid bill.
  7. Please notice that it takes a while for EVN (the electricity provider) to process the bills.

How are the families who need help with paying their electricity bills located and selected?

They are chosen according to their monthly income, the working competence of the family members as well as according to their overall health condition. The financial ability to cover the monthly expenses as well as whether their into the group of socially endangered families is also taken into consideration.

The people behind Ways2Help also collaborate with another organization which informs Ways2Help daily regarding the well-being of the 68 families they have helped so far not only with paying some of their bills, but also with donating food, clothes, laptops, and school equipment.

Why am I doing this and what do I get from this?

I get nothing since you directly pay bills on another site. The electricity provider has naturally NOT asked me to share this – they do not even know I exist. 🙂

I am doing this because I care about these people. Because the pandemic has influenced us all; it is just that some of us are much more fortunate than others. With my stable income, warm home, paid bills, supporting family and loving boyfriend I feel incredibly lucky to still lead a normal – dare I say, happy? – life. Sadly, many people around the world cannot say the same and if I can help even a tiny bit, I would like to try to do that.

Second reason why I am doing this is because this is my sister’s birthday wish. Her birthday is coming soon and instead of gifts, she has asked her friends and family members to consider supporting this action. Nevertheless, even though she was the person who initially shared this information with me, I am myself really saddened by the obstacles that these families encounter.

I am well aware that amounts of around 35€ or more are not pocket money. I know that maybe if I had asked you to consider donating some 5 or 10€ to charity you would have done so immediately. However, please keep in mind that like this you are truly contributing to a real cause and you are immediately making someone’s life much better. The days are now incredibly short and dark; on top of that, everything is online and we should all spend more time at home, so going through COVID-19 without electricity, must feel like a nightmare.

Last, but not least, if you cannot support these families, but you know someone who might be able to do so – please reach out to them. Thank you so, so much my dear readers and friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *