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Solidarity During Coronavirus: A perspective from the Campo de Gibraltar

Rosario Pérez | Photos: Fran Montes

Coronavirus Campo de Gibraltar | Solidarity During Crisis

These days the Campo de Gibraltar is showing its most altruistic side, with efforts being made to make the coronavirus confinement more tolerable.

The Campo de Gibraltar is a generous, committed and welcoming land. This has been made clear many times, although there is always a rowdy minority which puts its foot in it and besmirches, through appearances in the media, the image of an honest and industrious town, whose citizens never hesitate to roll up their sleeves to row against the current whenever necessary.

Solidarity Campo de Gibraltar Coronavirus
Coronavirus Campo de Gibraltar | Fran Montes

There are many examples of this public spirit in recent history… a movement that was created in the 1980s to battle the scourge of illegal drugs, or the collection of blankets and drinks for the immigrants who stated to arrive en masse to Tarifa in the 1990s or those families who opened up their homes to provide “holidays in peace” to the refugee children from the old Spanish Sahara, or those who work tirelessly for cancer relief  and in aid of those suffering other illnesses, physical or mental, domestic violence, poverty or evictions.

These days, the health, economic and social crises caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed pursuant to the state of emergency declared by the Spanish government, have once again brought to the fore that solidarity is one of the principal strengths of any society as shown not just in major collective efforts but also small individual actions.

Delivering Food to Vulnerable People

Campo de Gibraltar Coronavirus Algeciras
Coronavirus Campo de Gibraltar | Algeciras | Fran Montes

Many of these initiatives are supported by the town halls of the various municipalities. In Algeciras for example, the town council has approved a measure to provide financial support together with the Andalusian regional government, to guarantee home deliveries to vulnerable old people as well as catering facilities for them and for the children of families with limited resources who find themselves in difficulty as a result of the closure of school lunch halls.

In addition, an emergency scheme has been put in place to deliver food to the 120 or so people who regularly use the Father Cruceira food kitchen (also known as the ‘Comedor del Carmen’) which had to close as a result of the pandemic because the volunteer helpers are mainly elderly people; and therefore particularly at risk.

This campaign has been supported by two brothers Jesús and David García, known as “los Chatos” who are hoteliers in Algeciras and who have from day one provided free meals every morning. The Catholic relief agency Caritas and the Food Bank provide food and the Civil Protection agency and the Red Cross attend to distribution.

In La Linea organisations such as Asansull (which provides services to people with special needs) and the Nuevo Hogar Betania (Bethany New Home which provides facilities to ex-prisoners, victims of domestic violence and others in distress) have redoubled their efforts. The Association of Gypsy Women “Nakera Romí” mobilised public support to provide 40 bowls of stew to families in need.

Anxiety Relief and Homemade Masks

In San Roque, the Association of Transplant Recipients and Donors “Trasdocar & Corazon” (whose patients have already experienced enforced isolation) have been sharing ideas on social media as to how to deal with anxiety and stress. Meanwhile, many volunteers from the municipality have been producing thousands of homemade masks which have been provided to local authority workers, staff in grocery stores and pharmacies and the county hospital in La Linea.

In Los Barrios, the Acerinox factory donated 1,500 face masks to the hospitals in the district pus another 500 to health centres. The multinational Cepsa oil company which has a plant in San Roque has also made a major donation of protective material to the health services.

These are by no means the only Companies that have shown their best public spirit in these days of confinement. Many Chinese owned businesses in the Campo de Gibraltar have gifted disinfectants, sanitizers and gloves for use by police officers, shop assistants and prison officers at the Botafuegos penitentiary. The association of 3D manufacturers have got cracking with the job of providing protective visors using transparent plastic file covers used for A4 paper.

Internet Culture Against Boredom and Fear

Finally many authors, artists, musicians and creative folk in the district have been flooding the social networks with all kinds of ideas to make the weeks of isolation more bearable: most popular among these initiatives on Facebook and Instagram have been online tutorials on dance, Spanish guitar or the arts, poetry readings, and children’s stories. At the end of the day since the beginning of time cultural activities have always been the best antidotes to boredom, loneliness and fear. 

Coronavirus Campo de Gibraltar | Solidarity During Crisis

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