The Fundacion in times of lockdown
As always, Argentina dances a tango. When one think where our foot is, it already takes the next step, or the other ... It is very difficult to paint a picture of the current situation in the country. Locked down has been compulsory since March 20. Measures are tight. Parents can go out with their children under 14 for one hour a week only. Retired people queue at the bank to get their pension. Shops are closing down because they just cannot pay their rent.
The dengue fever comes in addition to the Covid-19 pandemic. The dengue is a mosquito that is increasingly present in Argentina, not only in the most precarious areas but also in the center of the capital. Preventing measures are available but the government is not always up to the task. At the Foundation, the disinfection was done by the Colonia Urquiza Club.
In the « Villa 31 », one of Argentina’s largerst slum, out of 10 tests carried out 8 revealed positive. « It is difficult to be confined without clean water, » said a spokesperson. « To understand the picture, without drinking water, with very little space for a large family, where generations and physical vulnerabilities mix, basic hygiene is very difficult to achieve. People can clean continuously, floors are made of earth and walls are along motorways ». On top of this, gender violence (statistics show that in Argentina there is 1 feminicide per day) and violence against children have increased exponentially.
Covid and the Fundacion Emmanuel
Monica, who is heading the activities of the teams and activities, sadly tells us that she cannot be at the Foundation. Only Karen and Luciana, two staff member who live in the area, are responsible for contacting and helping the families. Hector and Pablo continue to take care of the maintenance tasks, cut the grass and help the girls when they deliver the food. The other professionals work from a distance to support families and create new bridges until lockdown comes to an end.
The interview with Luciana hereunder gives you an idea on how critical the situation is for the children and families supported by Fundacion Emmanuel
How is daily life at the Foundation?Different ... we do not have the possibility in welcoming the children with whom we have shared our daily life. We miss them and their parents tell us that they also long to come back to the Foundation.
Our reduced staff works at the Foundation twice a week, to provide food and activities which are emailed to us by the teachers who are in charge of the various workshops that were taught to the children before Covid19 lockdown. We print them and then give them to families. We are also available for families in the community to help them with any needs, whether it is providing materials for homework sent to them by school, warm clothes or to help them perform certain admin procedures through Internet, since most of them do not have access to this service.
What does your job consists of now?At the moment, I continue my administrative tasks and I also collaborate in putting together and disinfect food bags. I also receive with my colleagues families who come to look for food and, together, we take care of the needs they express to us. We forward them to the rest of the Foundation team who work from home. They are connected to various regional authorities and institutions such as health centres or schools. Together, they find solutions to solve these needs. Although families have direct communication with the team of professionals, with my colleagues we are the only one who have face to face links with them. We also receive donations of clothing and other essentials and then deliver them to families.
Besides food, are there other activities?
In addition to food, children are provided with educational activities, such as school review tasks appropriate to their age, and recreational activities such as art, artistic gymnastics, storytelling or other workshops where they can express their emotions through games that they can do as a family.
What do you notice when you see the families?
When we receive the families, they express a great deal of concern about the economic situation that each of them is experiencing. They are also worried about the Covid-19, there is a fear of contagion even if they are very responsible and take all measures of precaution.
What do you perceive in the general atmosphere of the Colonia since the corona is present there?Above all, I also notice great concern for the lack of economic resources, since a large part of the population produces plants and flowers. Indeed, ever since the pandemic, they have not been able to sell their products and suffer great losses. Both they and those who had informal work, such as domestic workers, construction workers, park maintenance workers have no income whatsoever. The risk of infection is also of great concern since locally people have been infected.
What would be the best and the worst for you, your family and the colunia in general since covid-19 is a daily threat?The best thing, on one hand, is that we all have the opportunity to bond as a family and share our daily life and help each other. Also, living in a rural area, we have green spaces around our homes and we don't feel so closed off.
The worst part is the inability to generate income and the uncertainty of not knowing when « normal » activity will resume. Moreover, precisely because we live in a rural area, we do not have pharmacies or hospitals nearby, so those of us who do not have personal transport means have to take public transportation which is something we all try to avoid for fear of getting sick. In addition, buses have reduced their schedules and only a limited number of passengers can travel. Sometimes, we wait for more than one hour to even get on a ride.
Do you see a possible opening soon?
From the communications we have received from the President, we do not see any possible change of the situation in the near future. We unfortunately believe that the isolation of the children will continue at least for much of this year.
Interview by Natacha Nicora