TEXT: LAURA SÁNCHEZ IMAGES: ISTOCK
Do you have salt? Strangers who become neighbors
Sonia Alonso recalls that, when she was a child, her neighborhood was like a huge spontaneous help network. If her mother had to go out, there were neighbors to look after her; and, if she needed salt to cook a meal, nobody hesitated about calling next door to ask for some. In the street, everyone knew each other. “This is usually no longer the case,” Sonia states. We are losing that sense of neighborly help and contact with those living close to us.” Through a friend, Sonia discovered that an online tool was working well in Germany, helping to achieve close-knit neighborhood networks. And she did not think twice about developing the idea in Spain. In 2018, first in Madrid and then in Barcelona, the network ‘Do you have salt?’ was born. The idea was to connect neighbors to share recommendations, to ask for and do favors, to get to know each other… until the coronavirus outbreak reduced everything to one single objective:mutual aid and protection.
Over these few months the pandemic has been with us, interactions have doubled within the network, which now has over 6,000 users. Neighbors are offering to do the shopping, fetch medication, take out the trash or walk the dogs for the most vulnerable individuals. We have seen musical initiatives from the balconies, games for children and also many professionals – psychologists, doctors, lawyers, etc. – who have not hesitated to offer their services in an altruistic fashion. In ‘Do you have salt?’ they now want to create a helpline for elderly people who may not be so connected to the Internet. “We are now more convinced than ever that strong, united neighborhoods can act on a small scale and benefit each individual. Together we are stronger!” Sonia declares. https://tienes-sal.es/
Adopt a Teacher: education is indeed a game
This initiative arose as a solidarity movement of teachers committed to offering support and providing resources to children and their parents during lockdown. “We were a little tired of reading negative news about the amount of assignments pupils were being given during the quarantine. So, we offered ourselves to the children to help them in their daily routines with educational content related to their courses, presented in a more enjoyable, creative manner.” These are the words of Irene Alegría, the Valencian teacher behind this idea which has already managed to make over 300 teachers enthusiastic about forming part of ‘Adopt a Teacher’, including some of the top ten in the innovative education sector in Spain.
To adopt a teacher, those interested simply have to visit the page created on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #AdoptaUnMaestro. From there, they can access all the publications the teachers have been uploading. “This health crisis has turned into an opportunity to rethink our teaching methods and reflect on the importance of innovation in this field,” Irene Alegría explains. We will remain active once all this is over, given that this is but the start, what triggered us to set this in motion. The children and their families will still be able to adopt us. We want to spread this new way of educating.” https://adoptaunmaestro.com/
Cooking for others: giving your time
Sometimes there is an overwhelming desire to help, but a lack of ideas. This is what struck the journalist Paloma García Ovejero and the culinary blogger Susana Pérez (@webosfritos). You have the time and feel like cooking for people who need a plate of food. Perfect. But, what do you prepare? Where do you start? This is precisely the idea behind ‘Cooking for others: twenty recipes’: “it’s a kind of guide which aims to offer a helping hand in those kitchens that want to get to work and offer hot or cold dishes, made with love, safe in the knowledge that they will assist and offer comfort to those most in need,” Susana Pérez explains. “Many of them are just like you and me; you don’t have to seek out marginal populations. Whoever is having a hard time, a dish of homemade food always warms the heart and the stomach.” All the recipes in this free e-book meet four requirements: they have a limited budget; they meet the needs of carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables; they are easily transportable; they can be prepared in large quantities in one go, and then reheated in storage containers, if necessary. The book’s authors invite everyone who downloads it to decide what the publication is worth and to donate that amount to the Caritas NGO. https://online.flowpaper. com/7a47075b/ Cocinarparaotros/#page=1
Solidarity résumé: making others shine
Gonzalo Rodríguez works as an art director in an advertising agency in Madrid. The coronavirus crisis has taken its toll on his work. He went from working eight hours a day to three. With more free time, he decided to touch up his résumé, “just in case”. “I mentioned the idea to my girlfriend and my friend Javier Garcia, who was also working in advertising, in Valencia: “Send me yours and I’ll redo it too.” And then, following the initial impact on the health service, when the first terrible jobloss figures that COVID-19 was leaving in its wake started to surface, the idea arose: “We felt that, in the end, if everyone was in this terribly sad, exceptional situation, if we use social media, if we have friends working in the artistic design world… Why don’t we set up a group to design beautiful, attractive résumés for those who have lost their job because of this pandemic?” No sooner said than done. That was how the Solidarity Résumé came about. Although the epicenter was Madrid, in no time at all Gonzalo and Javier were receiving requests from other parts of Spain and, even, from South America. The team is now made up of 40 professionals handling requests from over 100 countries. https://www.instagram.com/cvsolidario/
When solidarity means milk
“If you know someone who needs milk, we’re giving it away today.” With this message on social media, Alvaro Ramón, a livestock and dairy farmer in the Amazon region of Ecuador, became a source of great help for dozens of families in the area. The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of the local dairy supply centers in the region, with the result that Alvaro could no longer sell his milk. “I realized that it would go off and that it was too vital a product for many people to allow that to happen.” So Alvaro Ramón obtained the travel permit document required in order to freely circulate with his truck and distribute 50 liters of milk to some 20 families in his community.
In Ecuador, as in many other countries, the lockdown measures resulted in the total loss of income for many people and limited access to food or even drinking water. These restrictions also made it difficult for small producers to reach local markets, leading to shortages in some towns and cities. With his daily round, Alvaro distributes milk safely to low-income families, pregnant women and mothers with small children. Information obtained from https://news.un.org/es/ story/2020/06/1475252
Convidarte: the art of collaborating
Recoleta District. Buenos Aires. Argentina. A married couple on their balcony wonder with quite some concern how the most vulnerable and the homeless will survive this pandemic. The next day, they share their concern with a friend, a psychiatrist who works as a volunteer in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. And they have an idea: cooking extra meals so that he can take them to the most vulnerable groups with which he is in touch. Very soon, more neighbors and acquaintances sign up to the idea. They go from preparing 60 meals a day to 1,800. The people cook in their homes to while away the quarantine and those who are not good cooks take charge of distributing the meals. Thus the Convidarte movement was born. Today it consists of a network of over 4,000 volunteers who distribute 6,800 meals a day to 30 shelters in Buenos Aires. A fine example of how easy it is to move from being concerned to taking action. https://www.instagram.com/convidarte31 https://www.linkedin.com/company/convidarte/
Pets in times of coronavirus
El Refugio is a prestigious organization in Madrid which has been helping rescue and recover abandoned pets for years. The coronavirus severely tested its ability to tackle particularly delicate situations and it responded with two initiatives. Firstly, ‘Home Alone’: pets are often the only company for many people who had to be admitted to hospital and are left defenseless until their owner is cured and discharged. An especially distressing circumstance for both of them. The volunteers at El Refugio took care of searching for these animals left ‘home alone’ and taking them to the home of a relative or acquaintance of the owner. Where this possibility is not feasible or, even, when the owner unfortunately passes away, El Refugio takes in these animals to find them a new owner. This marks the start of the second initiative called ‘Life Goes On’, an attempt to find them a new home. “An abandoned dog is not the same as a pet that has just lost its owner,” explains Nacho Paunero, president of El Refugio. Until recently, this pet had all the love and attention of its owner. Most probably it didn’t suffer from malnutrition or a lack of affection, nor aggressiveness, but it will be sad for some time. They will need a lot of love.” Taking into account the fact that 40 percent of households in Madrid have a pet, it is no wonder that El Refugio is making a heartfelt appeal for collaboration. https://elrefugio.org