The recession has hit the vulnerable hard. Those already on the bread line have few resources to fall back on when times become even more difficult. It can be easy to block out the hardship experienced by some of the people in our community. It’s just too easy to turn a blind eye.
And it’s not just the adults who suffer. For every adult struggling to make ends meet, chances are there’s a child not far behind. Whatever your views on the roles and responsibilities of the parent, no one can fail to see that children are suffering and through no fault of their own.
That’s why we decided at Ábaco that we wanted to do something to help disadvantaged children in Torrevieja. Within a stones throw of our offices there are children without enough to eat who don’t have the most basic of resources. We decided that we would like to help ease their situation.
There is no shortage of children in need, nor ways in which they might be helped. In this article we describe two of the ways we have chosen to spread some smiles.
In Spain it is traditional for school children to have a break time snack. In many cases it’s quite a large snack too. It’s quite normal for them to tuck into a magdalena cake at break time. Just imagine that your child is sat there watching others eat when they have nothing of their own and perhaps haven’t had breakfast or even an evening meal the day before.
The ‘Asociacion Alimentos Solidarios Torrevieja’ has been raising money to help provide a ‘breakfast’ for those children whose family can’t afford to give them one themselves. 180 children have been benefiting from having something to eat along with their classmates. Who knows when the last time they ate might have been?
But the money is running out. Because of this we have been collecting in our offices, from staff and clients, to help keep this beneficial support going. For just 2 euros, a child can have their ‘breakfast’ for a week. What better way can you think of spending that amount of money?
We have been keen to find other ways of supporting local children too. We started by asking the schools what essential resources they were short of. One school asked us for infant-age toys. They have classes of children who are only three years old, but very few toys to engage them with. These children aren’t at the stage of writing in and reading text books all day!
Toys had been supplied many years ago, but were long since broken and in need of replacement. In an attempt to plug the gaps teachers have been buying them out of their own salaries. We were asked to help.
The school provided us with a list of the kinds of toys that they needed. For example, they wanted logic games and toys they could use for role play. Toy cash tills, building sets, doctor’s equipment – items they could use with the children to build their language.
This need is particularly strong in this school as many of the children are not native Spanish speakers and ability in speaking and listening is a vital first step.
Ábaco was more than happy to collect toys from its staff as well as purchasing other items that weren’t donated. When everything was collected together a small delegation of staff delivered the toys to the school.
We’re always being asked what impact this kind of donation has. It’s hard to measure but we do have one example of just how much difference it has made.
One little boy, who was recently new to the country, had not spoken at all since coming in to the school. Staff were uncertain whether this was due to difficulties in speaking generally or whether it was his lack of confidence in Spanish. When the toys were introduced into the classroom his face lit up and he spoke his first words in front of his teacher. This is a major break through that no one anticipated.
We know we are not solving the reasons behind the financial crisis. We know our fundraising and collections are drops in the ocean. However, in these particular contexts, for these particular children and their families, our efforts are making a real difference. We hope that you might help us light up some more faces.