The fight against COVID-19 is everyone's responsibility. In December, China first notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of a new outbreak of coronavirus disease. Since then, the disease has infected more than five and a half million people worldwide and killed at least 350,000. In Spain, the government declared a state of alarm on 14 March and decreed the closure of a large part of the shops and the limitation of population movements.
In view of the economic impact caused by this pandemic, the Executive has approved several urgent economic packages to help the most vulnerable. However, on some occasions, these types of initiatives are not enough. The Foundation for Islamic Culture and Religious Tolerance (FICRT) together with the Islamic Religious Denomination Al-Tasamoh and the Sheikh Zayed bin Soltan Mosque have decided to do their bit by donating around 40 tons of food to the most needy families in Granada, Cordoba, Valencia and Madrid. "These difficult times of painful circumstances and damaging crises that have affected all of humanity are also a time of revelation and perception of the difference between good and evil, reaffirming the appreciation of every human being for life, who wishes to resume its course, seeking together solutions and remedies for the virus in order to recover normality," said Juma'a al-Kaabi, director general of the Foundation for Islamic Culture and Religious Tolerance.
The health crisis affecting Spanish society risks becoming one of the biggest social crises the country has ever had to face. "Although there are strong and weak, rich and poor, they all need each other; and it is when we perceive the importance of human values, which are found in each one of us, values such as solidarity, coexistence, tolerance that we all share, extending happiness to all people, regardless of their race, religion or colour, through these values", added Juma'a al-Kaabi.
In the case of Valencia, this pandemic has left dozens of families without resources. For this reason, the Foundation for Islamic Culture and Religious Tolerance has donated nearly seven tons of food to the families of this city. The director of the Jesuit Service for Migrants in Valencia, José María Segura, received this help as "a blessing", in his words, while appreciating the importance of a Christian institution, the Society of Jesus, cooperating with a Foundation that has Islam in its name. This initiative also reached the Islamic Association of Valencia, whose president underlined the "invaluable help for all those who have a small business and who, due to the closure of their businesses during the confinement, are experiencing moments of great difficulty".
The day before, this same organization was present at the Nazareth Association in San Blas (Madrid), to distribute more than eleven tons of food to the families of Madrid". There are no religious barriers," said Fernando Domínguez, president of the Nazareth Association. The package distributed by the foundation includes basic foods such as sunflower oil, macaroni, basmati rice, chickpeas, flour, salt and even dates.
FICRT aims to help with this type of delivery to minorities, a population group that suffers double discrimination as a result of this pandemic, both because of their economic situation and because of their place of origin or religion. "We are trying to create this common coexistence through concrete and specific actions," the director specified after explaining that "if we do not recognize the value of diversity, we will eventually find that the only thing that exists are population groups that feel isolated and that are not interrelated with society".
FICRT Foundation has also donated about 4 tons of food to families in Granada. The City Council of this city has been forced to urgently activate economic aid so that more than 250 families could pay for food and basic necessities. FICRT wanted to reach those corners where the Executive has not reached by donating several tons of food to help these people to alleviate the consequences of the current economic crisis. "Together we will resist in these difficult times and together we will win," says the card that accompanies the food box that the foundation gives to the people most affected by the crisis. Inés Riera, coordinator of the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Granada, expressed her satisfaction both at receiving the food aid and at being the first time that a foundation with such a clear multicultural vocation had come to her door.
A week after this Foundation distributed around seven tonnes of food to families in Cordoba, Brussels has proposed a 750 billion euro anti-crisis fund for the economic recovery of the old continent, of which 500 billion will be disbursed in the form of non-refundable grants, while a further 250 billion will be distributed as loans. "The Commission proposes a recovery fund of EUR 750 billion in addition to the common instruments already in place. A European turnaround to face an unprecedented crisis", specified the European Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, through the social network Twitter. Spain will benefit from 140,446 million euros from this fund, being one of the largest beneficiaries of this fund, only behind Italy.
In Cordoba, Javier Bazuelo, a Red Cross volunteer, described how new people who until now had never been in the situation of having to resort to food aid are approaching the various organizations in Spain that work with the most vulnerable sectors. "To be able to carry out this initiative we have coordinated with these entities to detect at a local level where there were families who had specific problems. We would have liked to reach all of Spain, but in the end we have focused on four regions (Granada, Cordoba, Valencia and Madrid) where we have found some situations of people in vulnerable situations due to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis resulting from this health crisis," stressed the director of the Alfred G. Kavanagh Foundation during the food delivery in Madrid.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies defines vulnerability as "the diminished ability of a person or group of persons to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the effects of a natural or human-made hazard". Along the same lines, they clarify that, although "vulnerability is almost always associated with poverty, people who live in isolation, insecurity and defenselessness are also vulnerable in the face of risk, trauma or pressure". The coronavirus pandemic has left thousands of people without the resources needed to face this threat or to resist the effects of this health crisis.
In this context, the role of institutions such as the FICRT Foundation is essential. "In the midst of the pain and suffering caused by the virus, there is also a space for hope, which grows every day through the unity of citizens in adversity and the generosity of so many people who collaborate in solidarity initiatives like this one," Kavanagh said. The objective of this organization is "to promote inter-faith dialogue within a framework of tolerance and integration, as well as to encourage cultural mediation through the dissemination of knowledge of the Islamic language, culture and civilization". During the food delivery in Madrid, the director of this organization emphasized that one of its goals was to create a common coexistence through concrete and specific actions.
Since the appearance of this pathogen, all the workers of this institution have worked tirelessly to organize food deliveries and other types of actions aimed at reducing the economic impact of this pandemic. At all times they work together with a Committee of Experts to analyse the evolution of this situation and to help the most vulnerable. "A few days ago we were looking at the possibility of helping if necessary with obtaining kits or tests for the coronavirus, assuming that at any given time there might be a shortage of stock," said Kavanagh during the Madrid delivery.
However, if this institution stands out for anything, it is for promoting the value of solidarity and religious tolerance among people of all cultures and religions. To this end, in addition to helping in times of crisis such as the one we are experiencing, they also organize a series of activities, conferences or congresses to "promote tolerance and the integration of different religious minorities in Spanish and European civil society", as they highlight on their website.
The FICRT Foundation has wanted to reach the most vulnerable population with direct actions -such as the donation of around 40 tons of food- to alleviate the negative effects of this pandemic. The aim of the campaign is, in the words of its general director, to promote human values in this period of crisis. "This initiative has been well received by all the institutions that have been contacted, in the four Spanish cities where it has taken place, Madrid, Cordoba, Valencia and Granada, as these are some of the areas most affected. With this cooperation, nearly 2,000 food baskets were distributed in record time, achieving success and a high degree of acceptance by civil society," he stressed. However, much remains to be done so that these families can return to the new normality as soon as possible, a new normality in which the economy and institutions such as FICRT play a fundamental role.
1. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - Food Box during the donation to Banco de Alimentos de Mediana Azahara , Córdoba May 20, 2020
2. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - A volunteer prepares food boxes during the donation to Banco de Alimentos de Mediana Azahara , Córdoba May 20, 2020
3. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - Food Boxes to be Donated at the Banco de Alimentos de Mediana Azahara , Córdoba May 20, 2020
4. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - A volunteer holds a box during the donation of the Banco de Alimentos de Mediana Azahara , Córdoba May 20, 2020
5. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - A man with a protective mask in the donation to Banco de Alimentos de Mediana Azahara , Córdoba May 20, 2020
6. FICRT - Man holds food box during FICRT donation to Masjid Umm Al Qura Islamic Center in Granada
7. FICRT - Two people finalize preparations before FICRT donation to Masjid Umm Al Qura Islamic Center in Grenada begins
8. FICRT - FICRT food boxes prepared for distribution at the Masjid Umm Al Qura Islamic Center in Grenada
9. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - Two men with masks prepare food boxes during the donation to the Islamist Com. Granada As-Salam Mosque
10. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - Two men with masks prepare food boxes during the donation to the Islamist Com. Granada As-Salam Mosque
11. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - A young man explains what the donation to the Islamic Com. Granada As-Salam Mosque
12. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - Donation to the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, St. Raphael's Hospital in Granada
13. FICRT/ Krum Krumov - A man prepares the boxes that will be distributed in the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, St. Raphael's Hospital in Granada
14. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - The president of the FIRCT and the president of the Nazareth Association during the donation of food to this institution in Madrid
15. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - FIRCT President gives a box with food to a woman at Nazareth Association (Madrid)
16. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - FIRCT President gives a box with food to a woman at Nazareth Association (Madrid)
17. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Preparations before the donation to the Islamic Cultural Center of Leganés
18. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Preparations before the donation to the Islamic Cultural Center of Leganés
19. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Several volunteers prepare food boxes before the donation to the Islamic Cultural Center of Leganés
20. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Several volunteers show the contents of a food box before the donation to the Islamic Cultural Center of Leganés
21. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Several volunteers work on the food campaign at the Islamic Cultural Center in Villaverde Bajo
22. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - FIRCT workers help with food distribution to the Islamic Cultural Center in Villaverde Bajo
23. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Donation of food to the Islamic Cultural Center in Villaverde Bajo
24. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - FIRCT President explains the Solidarity Campaign for Food Distribution at the Islamic Commission
25. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - FIRCT President explains the Solidarity Campaign for Food Distribution at the Islamic Commission
26. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - FIRCT President explains the Solidarity Campaign for Food Distribution at the Islamic Commission
27. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Assembly and preparations prior to food donation in the Community of Madrid
28. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Assembly and preparations prior to food donation in the Community of Madrid
29. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Preparations before the donation to San Ignacio de Loyola parish and the San Juan del Castillo Foundation, Madrid May 22, 2020
30. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Volunteers during the donation to San Ignacio de Loyola parish and the San Juan del Castillo Foundation, Madrid May 22, 2020
31. FICRT/ Jesús G. Feria - Donation to San Ignacio de Loyola Parish and San Juan del Castillo Foundation, Madrid May 22, 2020
32. FICRT/ Joaquín Corbalán - Donation of the FIRCT to the Islamic Association of Valencia
33. FICRT/ Joaquín Corbalán- Donation of the FIRCT to the Arrupe Center - Jesuits Valencia, Valencia May 22, 2020
34. FICRT/ Joaquín Corbalán - FIRCT Food Distribution Event at Arrupe Center - Jesuits Valencia, Valencia May 22, 2020
35. FICRT/ Joaquin Corbalan - Volunteers prepare food boxes before being distributed at Centro Arrupe - Jesuitas Valencia, Valencia May 22, 2020
36. FICRT/ Joaquín Corbalán - Volunteers prepare food boxes before distribution at Centro Arrupe - Jesuits Valencia, Valencia May 22, 2020