Yesterday I found a flyer in my letterbox. It was titled “Home Assistance” and listed all the services on offer in my area: food delivery, advice on how to combat coronavirus and a telephone number to call in case of need. I found out later, by consulting the neighbors, that the person who distributed it, together with a group of friends, had formed a neighborhood union to help lonely, weak and elderly people in the area during the epidemic, without asking for anything in exchange.
Normandy, France, 18 March 2020: spending shared among neighbors
© Jean Gaumy / Magnum Photos
The Covid-19 pandemic has managed to bring out something positive in us: our altruistic side. With the progressive spread of the virus and the national quarantine in different countries, moments of extraordinary solidarity have emerged, very often going viral.
In China, where the epidemic began, road hauliers risked contracting the virus to ensure food for the inhabitants of Wuhan in February. We have seen demonstrations of gratitude towards doctors, nurses and operators called to face the situation, who have received applause and “virtual” support from the balconies of the houses, decorated with flags.
A girl sings from the window during the flash mob, March 13, 2020. Some people have organized a flash mob asking to stand on the balcony and sing or play something, to make people feel united in the quarantine. (Photo by Mairo Cinquetti / NurPhoto via Getty Images)
© Getty Images
In Italy, neighbors ‘shook hands’ singing from the balconies, to lift the nation’s morale during isolation – a gesture that many musicians then imitated. Recently, in Seville, Spain, a personal trainer gave a fitness class from his roof for quarantined people. And some Iranian doctors posted on Twitter a video while they dance – which immediately became viral – to raise the spirits of their patients.
March 19, 2020. People play the clarinet on the balcony in Valencia
© Photography Getty Images
The economy of altruism
When a health crisis of this magnitude occurs, responsibility, at all levels, belongs to everyone. Numerous governments are providing funds to small businesses to provide economic support. But the economy of altruism goes further. In the fashion sector alone, Donatella Versace, Giorgio Armani and Miuccia Prada have donated important amounts to hospitals in Milan, and LVMH has started producing sanitizers to be donated to the French health authorities. In New York, independent designer Kerby Jean Raymond of Pyer Moss announced an “imperfect solution” on Instagram – set aside $ 50,000 to help creative women’s and minority creative businesses in need.
Social media for a good cause
All over the world, social networks are exploited to create a sense of solidarity and support, in addition to informing and raising awareness. On Instagram, the VIPs give us a hand during this difficult moment: Lizzo organized a live streaming meditation session for mental well-being, while musicians of the caliber of Christine and The Queens held a virtual concert. Lil Nas X and Megan Thee Stallion sent money to fans affected by the economic impact of the virus, while Cardi B said he wanted to donate all the proceeds of Coronavirus to charity. (The rapper’s instagram post about the virus was remixed by Dj iMarkkeyz and became a hit in no time.)
Meanwhile, on TikTok, teenagers start memes to defeat anxiety and boredom. On Twitter, the hashtag # HighRiskCovid19 is used all over the world especially by people with disabilities or chronic diseases, especially immunosuppressed people, to share their stories and encourage others to resist. Prepare your handkerchiefs!
Connect with others
On a smaller scale and on a local scale, in the face of a crisis like this, solidarity is expressed in a few messages from friends that you haven’t heard for a long time and who ask you how you are, in the calls to your grandparents to make sure they are well, in sharing sanitizing, in the WhatsApp groups “good news” that many people are giving birth to.
From the institutional front, then, there are many solidarity initiatives. In the Municipality of Milan, for example, the project “I take care of my neighbor” started: it is a simple flyer that everyone can print and hang in the concierge to give their availability to help neighbors who cannot go out or who need for help. Launched by the Councilor for Happiness of the City Hall 3 of Milan Luca Costamagna and then relaunched on social media by the Councilor of Milan Pierfrancesco Maran, it is an invitation to demonstrate community. To ask those who live next to us if he needs shopping, if he wants a book, or if he only needs advice.
A working weekend is served at Corrado Tonello, CEO of Ennevolte, a company that operates in the corporate welfare sector, to create a local service platform that goes beyond the big cities, in the smaller centers where online shopping is often not active. Thus was born www.iorestoacasa.delivery the portal that wants to be of help to all those who are forced to stay home at this time of emergency by putting them in contact with the neighborhood shops. It is a meeting point between those who cannot leave their homes and those who offer to deliver their groceries, all free of charge. “It is a network that wants to cross all of Italy by enhancing the offer that exists in its city of residence or in the immediate vicinity,” said Tonello.
The Baasbox digital platform organized the #NonoleggioConCuore service, active from 23 March, which allows people who in these weeks have to stay at home to request assistance to manage daily emergencies: an available NCC driver (who normally stands for Car Rental With Driver) will help them by buying and delivering food and medicines, running errands and transport on their behalf, accompanying them to carry out medical visits or clinical analyzes so as to make them feel less alone. Rates? Halved by 50%.
Musicians play from the balconies of Milan
The world is in quarantine and these are difficult and worried moments, but by staying at home to prevent the Covid-19 infection, we can comfort ourselves knowing that we are capable of altruistic gestures when there is the greatest need. We are in isolation, it is true, but the hope is to get out of this pandemic soon with a greater sense of union, and remembering that technology – which so often consumes and distances us – can be used in a positive way.