How Covid19 is affecting Social Organizations in Argentina

Written by Marina Cruzet & Evane Gnabouyou
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How Covid19 is affecting Social Organizations in Argentina How Covid19 is affecting Social Organizations in Argentina Voluntario Global

To understand how covid-19 affects social organizations, we interviewed Luz Mendez, one of the coordinators of Pacheco Community. Here's the conversation we had.

Marina & Evane (M&E): Hi Luz, how did you start working with Pacheco Community?
Luz (L): I first approached Pacheco in 2016, I first started the gardening course, in early 2017, I became the Pacheco Community Coordinator. Now my tasks are to participate in weekly assemblies where the coordinators and I discuss the different projects that are underway, I also manage a new project that we created this year, "an area of food surplus and popular economy of space maintenance.

M&E: Who drives and works for the organization?
L: We are 3 coordinators who manage different areas, we all take part in the field and garden courses, Valéria is the creator of the project and the space coordinator and Matias is the agricultural engineer in charge of all specific and technical questions in the field.

M&E: Who benefits from the organization’s actions?
L: We believe that the actions of the organization must always benefit to the people of the neighborhood because the Pacheco community is a space of social organization that works with different neighborhoods of Tigre. Our idea is to open the doors to the communities so they can participate in the debates of discussion, reflections and popular education that we hold. The goal is that the neighborhoods around the Pacheco community can be the beneficiaries of the workshops, learning and reflections that the Pacheco community provides.

M&E: What are the organization's objectives and actions?
L: The main objectives of the organization are to generate a critical mind to the people who attend the project: from the smallest ones where we learn how to cultivate the field; to the biggest ones where we discuss topics of reflection such as "food surplus". In these debates, we talk about our food from the plantation to our plates. These reflections allow the community to gain food awareness, open their minds and express their points of view in order to have a critical mind. For us, community health is very important, which is why we have started working with health centers in the neighborhoods around us. The actions that we are taking are: gardening workshops where they learn how to cultivate fields, plants and understand the concept of agroecolog and workshops where we discuss the important link between our food and our health. Our aim is to help young people from the surrounding neighborhoods to find a job, because many young Argentinians who leave secondary school find themselves lost, gardening offers them an associative way of working.

M&E: How has the coronavirus affected your organization?
L: For the moment, the physical activities within the Pacheco community are totally suspended, which is very difficult for us because we are working with different neighborhoods. We're using virtual communication to be able to carry out some of our actions, we're thinking about other communication strategies and how to promoting our activities in social networks. We try to share reflections with the community because staying at home does not prevent us from acting collectively. The purpose of this online communication is to make the community feel that they are not abandoned in these difficult times. Today, more than ever, current strategies must seek collective answers.

M&E: When do you think your activities will restart?
L: At the moment nothing is very clear but certainly after the quarantine, in 2-3 weeks; activities will restart very slowly. We hope to be back as soon as possible for our daily actions which are more efficient and concrete. It is important that people in our community know that we are back in our neighborhoods.

M&E: In what form, do you think activities will restart?
L: At the moment, everything is new but it will create a change in the world, in society, and in the way of seeing and creating things. Then, we must think how to return to our activities with the same normality. We have a lot of projects that are suspended, so we have to take advantage of this time to anticipate the best possible resumption of our activities. We also believe that the current situation will give us more strength to return to our activities despite this difficult scenario.

M&E: Who are the most affected by the situation created by the corona virus?
L: Sectors where people have informal jobs, those who live from day to day or work on the streets are more affected by the pandemic. They are the ones who are most affected by the crises and those who have been abandoned by the system because they are outside of it.

M&E: How do you think this situation will affect the country's economy?
L: As we know, 40% of the Argentinean economy is informal and now totally stopped because of the epidemic thus the Argentinean economy and the Argentines will be seriously affected by the virus, so the future of the country is very uncertain, but what is certain is that hard times are unfortunately coming.

M&E: How do you see the future of society after the coronavirus? Do you believe that society will be more united?
L: We don't have concrete answers, but we do know that it will generate a total change in our consumption habits. At the moment, our consumption habits are limited due to the fact that we are in our quarantine. We must generate a change in our consumption habits and methods: we must rethink society from the basis of consumption on our needs and finally get out of this individualism because it is only together that we can save ourselves. We need to be united to fight the pandemic together because solidarity is what we need in our neighborhoods for the neediest people.

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