TEXT: LAURA SÁNCHEZ
Students and teachers from the Faculties of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine at the UNICEN (National University of Central Buenos Aires) are proposing a way to restore the peace, harmony, calm and tranquillity taken away by the coronavirus, through birdwatching and the project “Aves Solidarias” (Solidarity Birds). In the toughest months of the lockdown, this group realized that through the windows of their homes they could observe birds, their characteristics, behavior, and so on. The participants posted photos of their sightings on the internet and shared their “field notebooks” with other bird lovers.
The group’s leaders came to the conclusion that observing these animals, in addition to connecting people to nature, contributed to their psychological stability and stimulated their patience. “We all learn, we interact with popular knowledge and we train each other”, explains one of the leaders of Aves Solidarias. “We work together to help rebuild and reinforce the social fabric, where the sense of belonging is one of the cornerstones, and birds are natural intermediaries in this effort to strengthen ties. For the participants, birds become key elements and companions in this pandemic that, unfortunately and in many areas of the world, requires us to stay in our homes.”
Aves Solidarias already has nearly 1,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram, the two social networks it uses. The activities and interactions are permanent and take place in Argentina, the birthplace of the project, as well as in Peru, Chile and Guatemala, among other countries. The group is made up of students, senior citizens, adults, kindergarten students, teenagers… the photos come from professional cameras, cell phones, tablets, and so on. All contributions are welcome and are a constructive part of the project, which is neither a contest nor a bird census. “The idea is to take another look at ourselves, at nature, at our society, it is a search for well-being, harmony and tranquillity.”
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/aves.solidarias.7
The Olympic spirit and refugees
Empathy, teamwork, sacrifice, solidarity… sport tries to instil certain values that are particularly important when it comes to helping other people, and there are few vehicles as powerful when it comes to raising people’s awareness of less wellknown issues. These include the plight of refugees, and the Olympic Games are a magnificent platform for appealing to the collective conscience.
It all started at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games: that year, the International Olympic Committee decided to create a team from athletes who had been forced to leave their respective countries because of war or political persecution. There were ten members of the team in Rio, including Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini, who fled the war via the Aegean Sea in a dinghy with 17 other people. When the boat began to take on water, she and her sister jumped into the sea to hold onto the boat and push all their compatriots to safety.
This year, this team, sponsored by the IOC and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), has grown to 29, with members from Afghanistan, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Venezuela. Their flag? the Olympic flag. Their anthem? the Olympic anthem.
IOC President Thomas Bach addressed them during his speech at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games to offer them the recognition they deserve. He went on to say that their courage and dedication will serve as an inspiration to so many people suffering similar situations. “You fled your homes because of violence, hunger or simply because you were different”, he said. “We offer you a peaceful home. Welcome to our Olympic community.”
For more information: www.olympics.com/ioc/refugee-olympic-team-tokyo-2020
The idea behind the solidarity campaign “Tejiendo Historias” (Weaving Stories) is that people, particularly older adults in the Las Heras department in Argentina, knit a woollen garment and send it together with a story they have written that is linked to knitting and solidarity. The garments and stories then go to children and elderly people in the Uspallata and Alta Montaña area, a region very close to Aconcagua and a natural pass to the Andes Mountains. A little weather information is enough to get an idea of the extreme conditions experienced by the poor people in the area: the weather in the city of Uspallata is harsh and cold, with absolute minimum temperatures that can drop below -17°C in the winter. The average minimum temperature in June is -2.5°C while the average maximum is just 14.8°C.
The hope of the campaign is that around 800 people from Uspallata and Alta Montaña will receive, on the one hand, the warmth of a new winter garment to protect them from the low temperatures and, on the other, the human warmth that comes from the words of the person who knitted that garment for them and who shares an experience through a text: advice, a few words of inspiration or a beautiful story. In addition, the knitters can write their name and contact information in the texts they send.
Most of the people who will knit the garments take part in the online workshops organized by the senior citizens’ area, as well as various senior citizens’ centers in the region that are part of the virtual program “Mañanas Compartidas” (Shared Mornings).
For more information: https://lasheras.gob. ar/2021/06/29/donar-abrigos-que-cuentan-historias/