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Community Spirit

23 April 2021

Pandemic Bringing Out the Best in People

The global pandemic changed the world. It exposed weaknesses in governments and societies. The most vulnerable sectors are suffering more than ever. The gap between the rich and the poor is now wider than at the start of the century.

Governments are struggling to keep afloat their economies and to keep their people safe. But despite their efforts, entire industries are going down, millions of people are losing their jobs. Local governments are having the most difficult time feeding their constituents, not to mention how they would care for the sick.

The entire System is being shaken to the core. People are now faced with the idea of changing it to make sure that every single citizen is taken care of in times of need.

We have seen the challenges people face. We see them every single night in the news, on social media, and other similar news organization. We have seen the looting, the desperation to provide food and money to families. It’s as if the pandemic is showing us the dark side in people.

Luckily, the pandemic is also showing us the good side. The internet is filled with news about initiatives by private individuals to help others. It’s a sign that governments are struggling in their job. And when people’s lives are at stake, many wouldn’t wait on governments to act and help. People naturally have the tendency to support each other.

In today’s article, we are going to look at the stories of people who are willing to give the little that they have to help others. 

Catalina Cruz: Community Kitchen

My husband and I loved cooking, but both of us didn’t pursue a degree in culinary because we came from poor families. In the Philippines, like in most poor countries, culinary and other similar courses are deemed a luxury. So, we ended up taking education. We met at work, at a private school for children of wealthy families. Sadly, even after years of being together, we never had children. We then considered our students in school as our own children. We dedicated all our time in making sure our “kids” are well equipped. For 25 years, we taught children of all ages. Work is hard, but every single minute was worth it.

When the pandemic reached our shores, lockdowns were imposed. Businesses were closed, including schools. My husband and I found ourselves without a job. It wasn’t the worst part, because through the years we were able to save up and buy a farm near the mountains. The worst part was, everyday we see people struggling in the neighborhood. It broke our hearts to see people without food.

So, my husband and I decided to send a mini-truck to our farm to collect all the produce available. The truck arrived three days later filled with vegetables and fruits. We then contacted a neighbor who owns an empty lot near the river. With the help of other neighbors, we set up a small tent able to house a small kitchen and a small dinning area.

It was my idea: to build a small community kitchen designed to give anyone access to free food from morning until dinner time.

We started small of course. One twin-range for cooking, and two Adjustable Standing Desk Pro Series from a company called Flexispot. We bought these tables last year when we decided to build a small home office. We decided to bring it inside the tent because we didn’t have enough space. If we bring in traditional desks or tables, we would be needing four. 2 for preparing the food, and another 2 for letting our visitors eat. With our adjustable desks, it’s 2 tables in 1. For cooking, we can use it as a standing desk, and then when it’s time to feed people, with just a click of a button, it transforms into a traditional table. It’s the most convenient thing.

Yes, we started small, but now, we are gaining support from many people. That means we are able to feed more people.

Andres Palma: Community Bakery

Like so many people, I was heartbroken when the global pandemic reached our small village. I feared for so many of us. I feared for my bakery and my family.

I inherited the bakery from my father, and he from his. It’s the only bakery in our village. My siblings are all in the United States. One is a doctor, one is a lawyer, and our youngest, a chef. My parents wanted me to immigrate to the US, but I insisted on staying. Bread is my first love. And I wouldn’t want to leave the bakery just to anyone.

Hunger will be the most pressing problem when the global pandemic arrived, I told my wife. I knew that like most who lost their jobs, having our own business wouldn’t make us immune to hunger. People wouldn’t have the money to buy bread anymore, I reminded her. So, we did everything to save up and not waste a single centavo.

6 months into the pandemic, I personally witnessed families going hungry. Children, weakened by hunger, walk the streets like zombies. It broke my heart.

So, one night, I contacted my siblings in the US and asked them for financial support. Financial support not for me and my family, but for a project I was planning to start in a week.

That’s how our Community Bakery was born. Armed with my standing desk, I built a small presentation table in front of my bakery. People can just come in and take as much bread as they could depending on their needs. The entire village was thrilled. Yes, some of them wouldn’t have the usual meal, but it I know it makes them feel happy that at least they can have as much bread as they want. No man left behind.