All of our lives have been affected by the pandemic, and hopefully, we are all doing the same thing right now: staying at home. I wish I could tell you that La Serena's streets are empty, waiting for people to come back to make them alive once again, but I cannot. A lot of people have not taken the pandemic seriously or cannot stay home because of their jobs (the ones who still have one). Anyway, the movement is less and less, as people become more aware of the terrible situation all of us are living.
Chile has not been as hard hit by the virus as some other countries, fortunately. Currently, we are not in a mandatory lockdown; it seems to most of us that we should because a lot of people have not taken the virus as seriously as they should and still go outside as if everything was normal. Still, shopping malls and most non-fundamental stores are closed, only supermarkets and pharmacies are open. Some cities are in a mandatory lockdown because they have been more affected by the pandemic (among them, Santiago de Chile). In those cities, the silence is intense, and the streets are empty... no kids laughing, no dogs running in the parks.
I am spending the quarantine in La Serena, a coastal city in the north of Chile. It is rather shocking to see the beach lonely; the lighthouse seems so dull with no tourists taking photos! No laughs and drinks by the sand looking at the sunset in the Avenida del Mar. To me, one of the saddest views is the beach with no people running. Sadly, the story is quite different if you visit the downtown: just a few stores are open, but a lot of people go anyway. The only "abnormal" thing is that everyone is wearing a mask; people are still not conscious of how badly the situation could get if we do not stay home.
Staying at home, washing your hands, and keeping a distance from one another is what is recommended these days. For many of us, these are easy things to do, as we have homes and water, but not everyone is as privileged. A lot of people are not able to stay at home because they do not have one: this is a dramatic situation, especially nowadays because the only place we are really safe is home. If we can, we must help!
A big issue here in Chile is the lack of water: how do you wash your hands if you do not have water? Some Chileans do not even have water to drink! Almost a million people in Chile do not have direct access to water. Amulen is a foundation whose mission is to bring access to water to vulnerable rural communities. By doing this, they attempt to improve their quality of life. Among their projects, there are water purifiers for kindergartens and a drinking water network for 210 families in Callaqui. You can donate here:
Even though Chile has not seen the worst of the pandemic yet, the aftermath is showing. One of the biggest problems the pandemic has left is a high unemployment rate. A lot of employers are firing their workers covered by a law of job protection (a counterintuitive name for the law). Chileans have been deeply affected by losing their jobs, and are no longer able to care for their families and feed themselves.
Chile Comparte is a campaign created by different organisations with the sole purpose of helping families in need during the pandemic. Their goal is to provide them with food, so the organisation makes and delivers food packages (with a week worth of food for four persons) to the most vulnerable people. You can donate in this link:
A reality often forgotten, is the one of homeless people: it is sad that not everyone is able to do something as basic as staying home because not everyone has one! Sadly, this is the reality of over 15.000 Chileans. The Hogar de Cristo is a benefic institution dedicated to helping the most vulnerable. One of their main programs aims to help people without a home. They have shelters and foster homes where they feed them and support them. The Hogar de Cristo is currently doing a campaign to collect emergency funds: because of the COVID 19 pandemic, the goal of these funds is to provide better care to the elderly, which are at most risk. If you can donate, the link is below:
I bet you never thought you would have to face a pandemic in your life, but unfortunately, COVID-19 is a reality. I hope this helps to make us realize the important things in life. If you are fortunate enough to stay home, seize your days, and make the best of it. Enjoy this time with your family. Hopefully, we will travel again soon with a different perspective on life.
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