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Not only jackets

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For social heater: Lucero Yáñez Rojas

We are nearing the end of another pandemic year and although we remain separated from the people we love, that has not stopped us from trying to improve someone else's life.

This month, I had the opportunity to take part in Hoseg´s solidarity jacket giveaway program together with our allies, Scania (B2B clients who have accompanied us since our inception with their Transporting Heat program) and Ayuda en Acción (who are in charge of making contact with the communities).

Being part of these giveaways made me see how all of our work throughout this year materializes in hugs, smiles and games of the children that we shelter.

More than just a jacket...

Although sometimes we may wonder how a purchase can really help someone who is far from your home, from your reality and more than 3,000 meters above sea level, this experience has made me see how all our effort crystalizes in the solidarity jacket giveaway program and here I am going to tell you all about it.

In this giveaway, which has been our last activity for 2021, we worked with our allies, and in direct coordination with the NGO Huñuq Mayu, on 4 peasant communities in the province of Andahuaylas, Apurímac: Ccñuaran, Pataccocha, Santa Rosa and Huinchos

Day 1: Ccñuaran and Santa Rosa

We started the day with a 6 hour trip through the winding road that connects Ayacucho with Andahuaylas. Upon arriving at the hotel that will host us for the next couple of days, we met our allies: Ayuda en Acción, Huñuq Mayu and Scania; and with them we started what will be a second trip of an another hour and a half to our first destination: the community of Ccñuaran.

Once there, we find an empty plaza. The children were still in school, which they already attended in person. At that moment, you realize how the reality in the country differs greatly from life in the city; and how the pandemic has impacted in totally different ways.

The teachers told us how they were managing the return to class; and that to reduce the risk of contagion they were teaching in person classes only once a week, while the rest of the days the classes were taught through WhatsApp, since the children do not have a good internet connection at home. However, we learn from the children themselves that many of them cannot take virtual classes since many of their parents do not even own a cell phone.

Then came the jackets giveaway and I couldn’t help but think about how we sometimes take things as basic as the internet, access to quality education services for granted.

Immediately after the giveaway we went to our second destination: Santa Rosa, where the children and parents were waiting for us. We were so surprised that they welcomed us, not only with open arms, but with a delicious lunch of fried trout (my favourite food) with potatoes and salad. After that grand reception, we handed over the jackets to the children; who started playing soccer and running around the field. I remember their faces of shock and fascination when they saw us take out the drone that began flying all over the field while the children chased it, calling it a “little plane”; And although no one wanted the moment to end, the sunset forced us to return to our hotel.

Day 2: Patacocha and Huinchos

This time, the day started a little later, and after a slightly shorter trip we arrived in the community of Huinchos at around 9:30 a.m. After settling in the plaza, we began to call the children whose names were registered in a list provided by the community.

However, while we were handling the jackets, a lady approached me and spoke in Quechua; which I was not able to comprehend. That really gave me mixed feelings. As I had help from representatives from Huñuq Mayu to communicate with the lady, I realized that there is not only an economic gap between us (as I had noticed the first day), but also a giant cultural gap. At the same time I had to face the fact that I did not know Quechua (a language that my grandmother speaks fluently as it is her mother tongue), in part because of our disconnection with our roots. I remembered all those years of my childhood, where despite growing up in a family of Quechua speakers, it was never taught to me because it was seen as something unnecessary and even embarrassing.

However, I couldn't help but get distracted by the kids when we started with the giveawy. And you must understand, these children were fascinated with my hair (which I have dyed purple) and my tattoos. It took them seconds to form a circle around me and then fill me with a thousand questions about something that was surely unusual for them. They were hungry for more and no explanation I could give them was ever going to be enough. I was a novelty to them and they were very curious.

Finally we go to the community of Patacocha, which is about 15 minutes from Huinchos. There we had to wait about an hour for the children to come down from the school, which was at a considerable distance away. Again, you realize how distances symbolize that gap that separates us and sometimes constitutes a barrier that accentuates inequality.

The children did not stop arriving while we were delivering the jackets Some were running down, others by bicycle. There we took a thousand photos; the children were obsessed with taking selfies to see themselves later in the photos.

We are different stars on the same sky

Upon returning from this wonderful experience, not only did I understand, first-hand, all the logistics behind a purchase of a Hoseg´s jacket, but I also returned with a different vision of all the privileges to which I am very much used to. Although we are only helping to solve one of the needs of these children, the collective actions of our allies make these initiatives a snowball that little by little can help change their lives.

Also once again I understood that we are different stars on the same sky and that there are enormous distances that still separate us. However, thanks to Huñuq Mayu, Scania and Ayuda en Acción, as well as other allies, we are able to make these distances shorter through a our coordinated efforts. But this will only be achieved with the joint participation of society and the Government.

One more year of impact

With this giveaway we close one more year of collective action and we want to share with you the list of communities that we have sheltered throughout 2021. Although it has been an atypical year (with a lot of uncertainty), we have managed to meet the challenge thanks to you and we will continue to build the path together, always aligned with our purpose.