Volunteers with Amma Mexico in Cancun were accustomed to holding regular soup kitchens to help people living in poverty in their area. However with social distancing as the main concern, the coronavirus pandemic has put that action on hold. To bridge the gap, the volunteers are preparing boxes of groceries and basic necessities to drop off at people’s homes.
“The economic and social effects that have come along with this health crisis prompted us to raise funds to donate supplies to families who have lost their jobs,” explains Mario Martinez, one of the volunteers. “These are people who under normal conditions already live in poverty, and with the current situation their despair increases.”
As of this week, Mexico reported a grim milestone to the World Health Organization with more than 83,500 deaths due to COVID-19. Globally, that is the fourth highest number of fatalities. In terms of confirmed cases, Mexico ranks at number nine with more than 814,000 people infected.
The spread of the virus has ravaged an already ailing Mexican economy, which is now seen contracting by up to 13% this year. This is the deepest recession for the country since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“A high percentage of the population in Mexico lives on mobile jobs, so the pandemic has cut off their means to earn,” says Martinez. “In Cancun, the main source of employment is tourism, which has left thousands of people working in the sector unemployed.”
Amma Mexico’s supply boxes contain 13 products: rice, beans, sugar, salt, oil, lentils, tuna, cookies, pasta, jalapeños, flour, toilet paper and soap. In April, the team delivered 308 boxes; in June, another 336; and in August, another 240. A total of 884 families have received the much needed items in Cancun and its surrounding areas. The next delivery is planned for December.
Martinez explains that sharing these basic necessities helps the recipients to have the health and strength they need to move forward. One box doesn’t change the overall situation, but at least they have something to eat for one week. It’s a small achievement if you think of just one household, but it makes a difference when you multiply that by more than 800 families.
“The communities we have supported are families that before Covid were already struggling,” he says. “It is important to recognize our vulnerability in the face of a global crisis such as the one we are experiencing and to do what we can to help the most disadvantaged, even if it is minimal.”
From the beginning of their overall mission, Amma Mexico’s objective has been beyond ensuring nutritional needs are met. They give food with love and devotion so people can also feel uplifted in their hearts. The volunteers spend time with each family to truly listen and then try to provide whatever else they might be lacking. Martinez says coronavirus has deeply increased this understanding of the mental and emotional suffering of the people they aim to help.
“The pandemic has taught us that we have to live in the present and not make big plans for the future. We hope to continue helping more and more as circumstances arise,” concludes Martinez. “Being able to hear them and see their faces of joy when receiving the supplies also allows us to recognize that we receive more than we give.”