When Samora Machel, President of Mozambique from 1975 to 1986, said that "solidarity is not an act of charity, but a mutual aid between forces fighting for the same goal", he was not aware that this concept was going to become the essence of the year 2020. The number of people infected by the new coronavirus has exceeded five million. However, the measures taken to reduce the impact of this pandemic have led to hundreds of people being left without resources. In this scenario, 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 donated this Thursday more than eleven tons of food to the families in Madrid who need it the most.
"In the midst of the pain and suffering caused by the virus, there is also a space for hope that 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," the president of this Alfred G. Kavanagh Foundation highlighted last Wednesday, after donating more than seven tons of food to the people most affected by this health crisis in Cordoba. The Foundation for Islamic Culture and Religious Tolerance (FICRT), which works together with the Islamic Religious Denomination Al-Tasamoh and the Sheikh Zayed bin Soltan Mosque in Granada, collaborates with different foundations and local organizations, such as the Nazareth Association in San Blas (Madrid), to distribute around 38 tons of food in several Spanish cities.
The San Blas district is one of the districts that make up the metropolitan area of Madrid. During the last weeks a few studies have been published that show the relationship between income level and coronavirus affection. In this context, working class neighbourhoods such as San Blas have been more vulnerable to this pandemic and to the measures taken to prevent the spread of this pathogen. Brussels warned this Wednesday that the coronavirus will increase the levels of poverty and social exclusion in Spain, particularly among families with children. This situation has led hundreds of people to depend on institutions such as the Foundation for Islamic Culture and Religious Tolerance or the Nazareth Foundation for their survival.
Shortly before the headquarters of this foundation opened its doors, nerves were palpable in the air. Both the FICRT workers and the volunteers from Nazareth have not stopped working for a minute in the last hours to distribute the more than 2,520 kilos of food - of the eleven tons that will be delivered to the Community of Madrid - that had been destined to the San Blas neighborhood. "Fruit is the last thing to be prepared", explained one of the volunteers to her colleagues as she continued to finalise the details. Bags, on the one hand, boxes on the other, and a great desire to try to help without asking anything in return from those who need it. "The aim of this type of initiative is to promote culture, tolerance and solidarity by alleviating the needs of many families at the local level," said some of those present as they handed out food to people who were arriving little by little.
"In order 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 finally 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," said Alfred G. Kavanagh, president of the FICRT. One of the objectives of this event is to prevent the boxes from being abandoned in warehouses while waiting to see who will distribute them. "We want to go further and connect directly with families through local associations," he added.
One of the pillars of the Foundation is to promote solidarity in Spanish civil society through actions of all kinds: cultural, social or based on educational issues. "For example, last week we discussed with the Committee of Experts the possibility of helping if necessary to obtain kits or tests for the coronavirus, assuming that at any given time there might be a stock deficit, and to be able to help the authorities to obtain them," said Kavanagh.
In this sense, this organization is directed - as its president has emphasized - towards those people discriminated against by society, such as minorities. "We do this because, if there is no integration in a globalised society, or if we do not recognise the value of diversity, we will eventually find that the only thing there are are groups of people who feel isolated and who are not interrelated with society. Therefore, we seek to create this common coexistence through concrete and specific actions", he specified.
The Foundation for Islamic Culture and Religious Tolerance (FICRT) is an organization that has been in existence for only two years and has a series of agreements signed with local entities or research centers in order to promote solidarity for our territory. "In this period of confinement there has not been a single day that we have not worked on trying to develop a program of activities with full respect for security measures and social distancing," they insisted. Looking to the future, the idea of this foundation is to bet on "a more participative vision of the solidarity dimension", that is, to work with the autonomous communities and local entities so that the impact of this type of action is maximized.
"Solidarity is a fundamental value that always implies an activity towards the other, that is, an energy. There can be no passivity in this process, a process in which the culture of tolerance plays an indispensable role. At times we are in solidarity, but with a certain group of people who seem to be more like us. What is difficult is to generate tolerance towards people we know less about. The aim of our foundation is to integrate them," said the president. Through this type of action, this Foundation will distribute some 11 tons only in the Community of Madrid. This amount means more than 700 boxes that will be distributed among the neediest families in this autonomous community.
How do they choose the families that receive this type of aid? "We are not the ones who make this decision. All the families who come to collect their food come with their referral report from the social services, in this case from the San Blas-Canillejas Municipal Council. With the census we see how many are in the family unit and based on that we adapt the delivery," reported Fernando Dominguez, head of the Nazareth Foundation.
Meanwhile, both organizations, along with other institutions of the Community of Madrid, continue to work to help those in need. "We assess the situation of COVID-19 in Spain on a weekly basis so that, if necessary, we can take more specific actions of this type as well as others," concluded Kavanagh. The economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have led thousands of families to live on the edge of the abyss. Solidarity is now more necessary than ever, a value that gives rise to hope, thanks in part to institutions such as the Foundation for Islamic Culture and Religious Tolerance.