Around the corner

When the summer comes in large cities, many families leave for the holidays and they do not know what to do with the old family members. The numbers from the different shelters are alarming. Towards the end of June and July, or in the middle of those months, the emergency services in public hospitals break down. People have been forcing the elderly medical care so that they can follow their vacation plans and break free from the “burden.” When towards the end of the vacation period the elderly overcome the supposed crisis and call their relatives to be picked up, nobody answers the phone.
NGO volunteers who attend those services witness heart-tearing scenes. But, like some old people say, “It’s worse to be left alone at home with some milk in the fridge, some yogurts and bread in the freezer.” They are always told, “You deal with it, grandpa, and do not go out to the streets because something can happen to you, and do not open the door because in these times many people are merciless.”
Since there must not be protest without an alternative proposal, why don’t we each do what is at our hand’s reach? It is very simple. Find out if there is an old man or lady, or a sick person in your neighborhood or in the building in which you live. Ask the janitor, the doorman of the building or the pharmacist in the neighborhood. Go visit the old person and offer yourself to bring him or her something. Take him where he needs to go, or simply to keep him company or have a soda with him to keep him company.
If there is a sick lady, take her some magazines and offer any necessary help. Anything, from fruits to bread, is welcome. Sometimes it is enough to keep the sick company while family members go out to take a break.
Many institutions and many associations that serve the sector policies of these institutions do not understand that one can be efficient without large amounts of money. Nor is it necessary to go abroad to do what becomes charitable tourism.
Here, around the corner, an old person or a sick person, or someone who feels lonely awaits us. Of course we can do it. We only have to come close, knock on the door and thank them for allowing us to keep them company.

José Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez

This article was published in the Center of Collaborations for Solidarity (CCS) on 12/23/2004