“Pills” of hope: the silent transmission
Just some of the countless initiatives of solidarity emerging from the Coronovirus outbreak: not all transmission is negative.
As the world finds itself dramatically united by the spread of Coronavirus, sharing suffering and dismay over the growing number of deaths, we asked ourselves what contribution we can make. Anxiety is increasing more and more, health and security measures are being put in place, as the contagion spreads, borders are being closed…
But other areas of life are growing at the same time. According to the proverb by Lao Tsu, “a falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest”. Are we not “listening” to the growing forest? Maybe we can try to open our ears to hear it better. Here at UWP, we’re few and powerless, but we are part of a network of people throughout the world. So, let’s activate this network, which includes YOU. Can YOU help us to listen well and gather those actions and gestures of fraternity and solidarity currently embracing our globe, sowing seeds of hope and love?
Let’s start with the actions of fraternity we’ve already found in the pages of various publications and sites from Italy, Spain, Britain, China and Argentina. Different protagonists, from prisoners in a Venetian jail to some celebrities. A couple of neighbours in Barcelona, and a Chinese villager who gave away free the masks he was storing at home. Each one may seem random on its own, but they are many and they’re increasing across the world. They are gestures and actions of fraternity which display real creativity, spreading hope and unity among a humanity increasingly confined by quarantine. They are, we could say, “differently contagious”!
Italy: A “solidarity” protest in a Venetian women’s prison
In reaction to the many violent outbreaks in Italy’s penitential system provoked by fear of COVID-19 , 71 prisoners in the Giudecca Women’s Detention Centre in Venice, organized their own “solidarity protest”. In a single day they managed to raise €110 in aid of the intensive therapy department of the nearby Angelo di Mestre Hospital.
«The amount may be symbolic, but for some of the prisoners a single euro can really mean a lot, it can be all they had. I’m so moved by what they’ve done», said Sr Franca, one of the Sisters of the Child Mary, who work in the prison.
China: the young entrepreneur from Wuhan
Just over a month ago, 36-year-old Li Bo sold his car and borrowed money in order to open a new restaurant – in Wuhan. The virus outbreak began before he had even fully opened, leaving his city and restaurant deserted. Despite his panic over how to repay the debt, he decided to act. “I wanted to do my part, no matter how insignificant”, he told the Changjiang Daily newspaper. Li Bo and his chef spent the Lunar New Year festival cooking and packing 200 boxes of food to be delivered to health workers at Wuhan’s Xiehe Hospital.
«I wanted to do my best to make sure the medical staff eat hot meals. I hope they get the nutrition they need and that will boost their immunity, » he told the paper, adding that he plans to continue the food deliveries for as long as he can. «I hope the city we love gets better soon».
Spain: two Barcellona neighbours
Tomás and Santiago are both from Argentina, living in the El Eixample area of Barcelona. Tomás is a journalist, working for a French football association and continuing his professional studies. Santiago is a marketing graduate working for a multinational company. These two young men have organized their daily schedules “smart-working” from home in such a way as to create time, like many other young people around the world, to be able to assist those in need in their locality, for example shopping for their elderly, sick or fearful neighbours.
Italy: “Treat yourself to sanitizer”
As might be expected, from the start of the pandemic, demand for such sanitizers was enormous and the price went through the roof, increasing by up to 1,900%. In reaction to this, Laura, the owner of “BeBio Shop” in Rome posted on Facebook: «Buongiorno Mamme! Good morning Mothers! I want to inform you that my shop is offering a free sachet of hand-sanitizing gel as long as stocks last». Laura explains, «I wanted to make a symbolic gesture against the profiteering we can see all around us». In Milan, the manager of “Smeraldo” Pharmacy started preparing small packs of disinfectant gel to give away free.
Italy: free pizza in hospital
In the Alessandro Manzoni Hospital, Lecco, the Neuro-Intensive Care operating theatre has been assigned to treating seriously ill Corona patients. After several days and nights of constant work, the nurses finally found time for a food break and ordered pizza. One of the nurses told their story on Facebook: «When the delivery rider arrived, as I was removing my hairnet and mask, he told me to put my money away. In the shop another customer had overheard our order for the Intensive Care team, and she wanted to pay for it herself. She told the delivery person to thank us and encouraged us in our work».
China: the villager who donated 15,000 masks
Hao Jin from Changde, near Wuhan province, had last year worked in a mask production factory. When he left the job, the company could not afford to pay him his salary. Instead, he was given 15,000 masks – worth 20,000 Yuan ($2,883) as a form of compensation. He brought the masks home and forgot about them until he heard news of the mask shortage. «I thought I would donate the masks I have to those in need, I hope they can be of more use and value to others», he said.
He kept a handful of the masks for his family, and distributed some to those in his village before donating the rest to people in his region.
Argentina: the pharmacy supplier protecting stock for sick clients
In Córdoba, Argentina, the Decade S.A. company sells medical supplies to hospitals and patients treating long term conditions. With the virus outbreak, they saw a sharp increase in demand for masks and alcohol-based gel. «We observed a kind of psychosis, with many people who had never bought anything from us before suddenly ordering huge quantities of sanitizing gel. On reflection, we decided to preserve our existing stocks and acquire more in order to ensure supply to those patients we are in contact with through various social projects. These are patients suffering chronic conditions, including many children with tracheotomies or complex respiratory disease. Their parents and carers need masks and alcohol-based gel when they change cannulas and tubes».
As well as giving priority to those in real need, the pharmacists made the challenging decision to keep the normal price, without increasing their own margin: «We’re not profiting from the current situation», explained Decade’s Regina Galli. «It’s all part of our company’s social responsibility».
Celebrities: Instagram, balconies and crowdfunding
Chris Martin (Coldplay), John Legend, Robbie Williams, Neil Young, Alicia Keys as well as many local artists in their own countries, are performing concerts from their own homes or balconies in this period. We would normally be charged a lot to see these artists perform from home, but now they have the time, they are gifting some music to their fans. We also see many influencers using social media to spread health messages about preventing the illness, supplying information and calming the fears of their communities.
Many have also started fundraising for health and emergency centres. Right up there is the Italian celebrity couple, fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni and singer Fedez who raised over €4million within a week for Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital, funding new beds in the intensive care unit. It’s Europe’s largest ever “crowd fund” so far.