Since Argentina’s government imposed a nation-wide quarantine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic on 20 March, uncertainty and apprehension have seemed just as infectious as the virus. To counter that, UN Argentina began highlighting stories about everyday acts of kindness. From small gestures to big projects, ordinary people are making a lasting difference in the lives of those around them.
Agustín, a janitor, taking care of his neighbors
In one video, we meet Agustín, a janitor whose daily routine was upended completely by the arrival of COVID-19. He now works longer hours to disinfect the building’s common spaces, and respond to requests for help from tenants, especially those at a greater risk of infection. Thankfully, others have pitched in, so he is not alone in his efforts. “There have been tenants who asked for another tenant’s phone number so they can be in touch if they need anything. The word that describes the situation is solidarity, helping each other so that we can all make it.”
Margarita, a pediatrician, inspired by the kindness of her neighbors
The series also portrayed Margarita, a Colombian pediatrician working in Buenos Aires, who was deeply touched by the empathy and kindness of her neighbors. While other health care workers are facing discrimination and threats by those who fear the contagion, Margarita came home one day to find a note from neighbors offering their assistance with whatever she may need. “That gesture,” she said, “was soul-warming after such a difficult day at work.”
Ariel, an ambulance driver, heartened by the hospitality of patients’ families
Ariel, an ambulance driver, was the third “anonymous hero” who shared his story for the campaign. Despite the risk of contagion Ariel and other health care workers in the country continue doing their jobs in the face of the pandemic: “When we get into a home to transfer a patient to the hospital, people receive us in a different, better way. ”In some homes, patients’ families have set aside their terrible worries to greet the paramedics with kindness in the form of “food, or a beverage, or a hot cup of coffee that, at 3am, is a really welcome treat,” he said.
Convidarte: volunteers sharing a meal with those in need
The latest story of the series – for now – is one that got many people involved. It all started with a couple wondering how vulnerable or homeless people are able to face the pandemic. When they shared this worry with a psychiatrist friend who volunteers in one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city, together, they came up with the idea of cooking extra meals to send with their friend, who was able to bring them to the people in need. Soon their neighbors and friends joined in, boosting the number of meals to 60 a day. Within a month, that grew to 1,800 meals every day. By matching people willing to cook while quarantined in their homes with those who could deliver the meals, the project became a movement. Today, Convidarte (which translates as “to share with you”) is a network of more than 4,000 volunteers who distribute 6,800 home-cooked meals to 30 shelters every day. “This is love,” one of the volunteers excitedly explains. “This is nothing but love.”
For many of the cooks, it is a project for the whole family. For those on the receiving end, the food and the caring make them feel they are part of a larger family. For everyone, the project helps spreads a sense of solidarity that is a resounding reply to the fear that – amid the pandemic – we are facing together.