Last Tuesday I showed up at Cumana 78L for a day of food home-delivery in San Nicolas. The place was buzzing with volunteers in red shirts, they had prepared all customized boxes earlier in the morning, for the crew of volunteer drivers to hit the road midday.
Spaghetti, some chicken, a piece of pumpkin, fresh bread, coffee, sugar, cup a soup, Maggy’s cubes, potatoes, green pepper, crackers, the boxes were nicely filled, a few households also received neatly folded clothes, baby formula & diapers, according to their specific needs, larger boxes for larger households.
I was assigned 8 addresses in San Nicolas some around Lago Heights, some in town, compliments to WAZE, that had every nook mapped, and made it easy to get around.
J., a skinny, intelligent and well-spoken mother of three, worked at La Cabana as a contractor, she was hoping to go back to work soon, she wanted to have her kids early, she explained as a toddler in underwear squeezed through the ancient door to see the visitors. They are a total of ten in the household, and the place is falling apart.
Africa. Darfur. The area behind Lago Heights looks like Africa, lots of trash strewn around, abandoned structures, dust and plastic everywhere, no roads. The crumbling, peeling, cracking homes have boards for doors and windows.
M., a young mother of two, super friendly and eloquent, her mom owns a small food outlet in San Nicolas and she helps out there, but the place just opened and is tucked away and difficult to find. She lives in a gated cardboard complex, on a paved road, a deluxe accommodation in comparison to her neighbors to the north, with a toddler and a baby who relies on Ajudo Na Aruba for formula.
Z., an almost toothless kind woman, worked for Barcelo as a contractor and was let go, hoping to recover her position once the island opens. With seven people in the household things aren’t always easy. Her husband still works at a security man, which helped their situation.
The people we met were gracious and sweet. There is no shame in being poor when the whole country is suffering, and they told me their stories patiently, they were all hopeful.
Ajudo Na Aruba focuses on families with kids, especially single parent families, which was the common denominator of all homes we visited, all young women, burdened by a number of kids, with just a few men around, and they were sleeping when we knocked on the door.
Where are the men, I asked? Don’t they have any sense of responsibility, where did they go? And who raises these men, who walk away from their children? It’s us women.
We raise them like princes, to be worshiped and adored. Then what?
The CBS published some numbers this week, regarding subsistence level: The subsistence level for a household consisting of two (2) adults and two (2) children (aged 0-14 years) in April 2020 is Afl. 5,002, an increase of Afl. 93 compared to April 2019 (Afl. 4,909). The subsistence level for a single adult household is Afl. 2,382, an increase of Afl. 44 compared to April 2019 (Afl. 2,338).
Core inflation excluding the effect of energy and food – was 4.3% in April 2020. The energy index – which consists of the products: electricity, water, gasoline and diesel – was 2.1%. The food index showed an increase of 12.1%.
About Ajudo Na Aruba: Founders Annelot and Teddy now feed up to 1,000 people a week, having started a grassroots organization Ajudo na Aruba.
Please show them you care. This is a two-girl operation, no overhead, 100% of the products you deliver/donate go to the new poor, those who lost their jobs mid-March, those who were making beds, flipping burgers, and washing dishes in our tourist sector, many illegal, many single-parent families, 60% living around Savaneta and San Nicholas.
Ajudo na Aruba helps the bottom rung, those who get zero help from nobody, supporting small children, out of work, unqualified for subsidy or pension.
If you are reading this column, you must make a donation:
Aruba Bank #2211730390 Pemaxawo NV Sero Biento 23;
NL96 RABO 0110527887 ovv Ajudo na Aruba