Community solidarity in reaction to COVID 19 in Paute (Ecuador)
Since early 2020, all countries in the world have been progressively affected by the COVID 19 pandemic, a disease whose impact is felt most severely by poor and disadvantaged communities. Importantly, the disease requires a strong sense of mutual care and community solidarity to be mitigated and possibly overcome. For example, everyone must take action to avoid contaminating oneself and others, and everyone must understand that those who lose their jobs are in need of help.
With this in mind, the Feyerabend Foundation asked Father Hernán Rodas, one of its oldest laureates and most trusted nominators, to identify what could be done to prevent the most serious consequences of COVID 19 in disadvantaged community in the Paute area of Ecuador. Hernán identified the community of Plazapamba, where several families were experiencing health and economic difficulties. He helped the community to examine what initiatives might be appropriate, and one initial idea was to develop a community garden, where people could produce for their own consumption. This idea was also initially chosen by a group of “working children”, accustomed to regularly meet with Hernán and discuss their problems with him.
Soon, however, the idea of buying utensils and developing gardens for local consumption was taken up by several local politicians, who distributed seeds and other implements free of charge. The Plazabamba community were then asked again about their immediate priority and decided that one of their families urgently needed a place to live. The family includes 14 people, 7 of whom are children. They live in two dilapidated rooms at the foot of a hill, under the threat of large stones falling on their quarters. When COVID arrived, one of the family’s breadwinners was affected and had to stop working.
The people and children gathered by Hernan agreed that it was a priority to help that family, and their crucial need seemed to be a new home in a safer place. They decided that they would offer their work and ask for legal, administrative, and material support from the municipality, the church, the CECCA organisation and wherever they could find it. A small piece of land would be bought and a safer and more decent home for the family would be built there with the help of the young people in the community. Part of the urgent allocation from the Feyerabend foundation will be used as seed funding for this initiative and another part will be used as a “community safety fund”, which will encourage the community to think together and identify ways in which they all, together, can solve the problems resulting from COVID 19 better than in isolation.