5 April, 2020

How the pandemic has been reviving solidarity and volunteering for peace

Focus on France and Switzerland

At this particular time for the world, how is SCI France continuing to promote volunteering activities?
As you already know, in some countries, the current Covid-19 pandemic situation is deeply impacting our everyday life, causing a lot of changes! At this moment, everyone’s help is needed!

Think about elderly who cannot go to the supermarket on their own. And what about the most vulnerable and isolated people getting a call only once a week? Or health care workers fighting the virus, spending a lot of time up close with the patients doing high risk activities and, consequently, sacrificing their family life?

What about all those people finding themselves tormented by the wind of Covid-19?

In order to promote solidarity, peace and social cohesion, the SCI France decided to support a national initiative launched by the French government few days ago: #IWANTTOHELP

More than a national call, the government concretely put online a platform inviting French citizens to help through NGO activities, at the local level such as giving a hand to your neighbour, those who are more impacted by containment measures.

You can be involved in 4 topics :

  • Emergency food delivery
  • Babysitting
  • Keeping the link with isolated people
  • Local solidarity

And you, what would you to do to give a hand?

Let’s talk with our volunteer Romain:

As placement officer for international short-term volunteers at SCI France, my job was highly impacted by the crisis going on. When the lockdown was announced, I decided to go back home (Switzerland) to be closer to my family and relatives given we had no idea about the length of time it would last. So I found a way to go home, started my home office job for SCI but realised I could do more with my time. I got a text message from a friend of mine explaining he was looking for people ready to help the community and responded positively ! We had a list of people and then we shared that on social media to tell the villagers where I live so they could ask for whatever they need and we would do our best to help.

The local care home contacted us because the former volunteer delivering meals toward isolated people were for most of them over 65 years old and it was too risky for them to keep doing it. On Friday, we went for the former volunteers’s last round to meet the beneficiaries. The next Monday, we took over and we are delivering the food since then, following strict health rules to protect everyone. Beside that, many retired people called us because they were afraid of going to do grocery shopping so now, we go to their house, receive a shopping list and the money to do their grocery and do it for them. There are others examples, school having been cancelled suddenly, teachers asked us if we could bring the kids their school stuff home for them to keep studying. We accepted and in 2 hours, with 6-7 people we spread the educational material without bothering parents that are for most of them overwhelmed.

So my confined life is organized between SCI job and being available to help anyone in need. We have been struggling to reach retired people given they are not on social media, but quickly the word of mouth has made its job and demand is rising everyday. It is very rewarding to feel useful and it is really easy, one contact person, one whatsapp group to share what have been asked with the volunteers and that’s it, everyone can do it!

Written by SCI France.

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