May 13, 2021

two invisible faces struck by the pandemic

Gaby Rojas, with three dependent children, has not yet seen a penny of the ERTE benefit that she must receive, while Emiliana Lima, with a child in tow, was told not to go to the houses that she usually cleans and has been Thus left without income and a rent -without a contract- that must continue to be paid.

Both protagonists of this chronicle, who have agreed to tell their stories to EFE, are Bolivian residents of Barcelona and two of the “invisible” victims of the COVID-19 emergency, according to the correct definition of the Welfare and Development Association.

“There comes a time when you already despair of not knowing what will happen to your situation,” summarizes Rojas as an epilogue to the phone conversation.

44 years old, she has lived in Catalonia for thirteen years and has two sons and a daughter, aged 21, 20 and 16. He worked since October last year in the restaurant of a hotel in the city, which has been forced to stop his activity and present an ERTE for his staff.

But the provision of the State does not arrive and Rojas has not seen “not a penny since March 15”, since his file, they indicate to him from the ministry, is still “pending”.

He has been able to negotiate with his landlady, who has agreed to delay the payments of these two months but not forgive them: a debt that will be added to another contracted with a bank.

It only remains, to complete the unfortunate situation, to point out that the father of his children is not being able to pass the monthly pension that he usually sends, since he is also in serious financial difficulties.

It is the turn of Lima, who works cleaning houses for ten euros an hour, without a contract, and that these two months has been left without any type of income.

The owners of the three houses he usually goes to have told him that it is not necessary for them to go to their homes to clean, since they cannot leave the house and they are in charge of removing the dust.

But that must be explained to the owner of the apartment rented by Lima, for which she pays 700 euros per month, although she does not have a formal contract, so that she cannot avail herself of any government benefit or defer payments.

He lives with his three-year-old son and another woman, who occupies a room in the house that she is not paying now because she has also been left to zero.

The boy does not go to school these days, now closed, and that means that Lima cannot go out to find life.

“I can not access any help, I can not go anywhere, I have nothing to show that the apartment is in my name,” he regrets, although he does not give up: “I am getting by. One way or another I have to do it”.

The NGO Asociación Bienestar y Desarrollo has launched the #YOSITEVEO campaign to help overcome this delicate situation for some 600 people -among them Rojas and Lima-, mostly women.

Donations can be made starting at ten euros and the entity encourages civil society and companies to collaborate since “the administrations are too slow”.

Nausica Castelló, from the NGO, sums up the initiative thus: “It is so that they can survive. It is the social pandemic. It is a pure survival emergency.”

“The outlook is bleak. Most of the 600 families we serve have no income whatsoever and are in extreme poverty. They are on the edge and desperate,” he says.

Martí Puig i Leonardi


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