LN – The residents of the popular neighborhoods organize against hunger in the pandemic

Inside a huge and huge pot, with the dish of a satellite antenna serving as a lid, the chicken stew with rice is cooked in an improvised stove. They estimate that diners will be about thirty families in the neighborhood. The amount varies with each day, although it is always around two hundred daily servings.

We are not the State

“, she is heard saying on several occasions to Araceli Ledesma, the main leader of the Mesa de Trabajo del Barrio Luis Lagomarsino, located in Pilar, almost next to Escobar. It is a nucleus of humble houses, with many dirt streets, where drinking water is a luxury of the few, there is no gas network and in winter

fires are frequent

by the people who heat by firewood. Also power cuts and low voltage, by those who use electric stoves.

The Work Table is a group of residents that, for ten years, has been organized to improve the conditions of the neighborhood. Thanks to the efforts of its members, some streets have been paved and even a line of buses began to circulate. Now the needs are more elementary and urgent. That is why, since the beginning of May, they have organized a popular pot.

The menu of the day is chicken rice stew
The menu of the day is chicken rice stew Source: LA NACION – Credit: Rodrigo Néspolo

The team has the support and collaboration of Techo, an organization that today published the first cut of a survey on the impact of the coronavirus in popular neighborhoods, which LA NACION had exclusive access to. According to the surveyed data, from 162 neighborhoods, located in 30 municipalities in 16 provinces, the neighborhood organization has deepened after the pandemic. Specifically,

in all the neighborhoods consulted, the residents organized themselves for some purpose

: 136 started popular pots, 82 gathered to ask for food assistance and 31 promoted cleaning and disinfection days, among other actions.

The work also reveals that

barely 8 percent were able to continue working as they did

before the pandemic. 69.2% say they have a need at this time. The main deficiencies are food (70.2%), work (57.6%) and cleaning items (51.7%). And although more than 70% received some type of state assistance (70.24 agreed to the IFE, 30.95% had a reinforcement on the Alimentar card and 40.48% received food in public schools),

22.8% say they have not been able to access benefits

. The lack of information on how to apply for aid was the cause indicated by 50% of this segment.

“What allows us to see this first cut is that with the coronavirus

pre-existing problems were deepened

. Lack of access to basic services makes it difficult to comply with protocols. More than 70% do not have electricity, more than 90% do not have running water, almost all of them do not have sewers. They ask you to wash your hands and take hygiene, how can you do it under these conditions? Asks Gabriela Arrastúa, director of the Ceiling Social Research Center.

Hunger again present

In the Lagomarsino neighborhood, Araceli admits that it had been years since he had heard of


. And the current day will not be easy. It is time to tell the neighbors that this will be the last pot for now, at least until July 17, as a way to promote compliance with the quarantine.

An hour before the food is delivered, part of the team visits the houses to remove the containers. Enzo, one of Araceli’s 15-year-old sons, pushes the car where they are being loaded, built with a supermarket pig to which two bicycle wheels were added to the sides.

Jesi and Enzo scour the neighborhood looking for the containers
Jesi and Enzo scour the neighborhood looking for the containers Source: LA NACION – Credit: Rodrigo Néspolo

The one in charge of knocking on doors or hitting hands to get the attention of those inside the houses is Jesi, daughter of Sandra, the cook. Some boys are already waiting for her at the entrance of their houses. She receives the containers, soaks them in sanitizer, and places them in the car. On the way she meets Gabriela and Valeria, two sisters in their thirties. They have 5 children each and are the head of the family. They are at the entrance to Gabriela’s house, a humble house with exposed hollow bricks. The housewife is desperate.

“As I am reviewing, and my youngest baby is a baby, we went a few days to my sister’s house. Today in the morning I came and found that all the boys’ clothes and a box that had merchandise were stolen. I didn’t even have the sugar left to make tea for the kids, “she says with tears in her eyes.

“They robbed you again?” Asks Jesi. “Yes !!!”, the woman laments. “Before quarantine, I worked in family homes, but now my job has been cut off. I don’t know what I would do if the pots and soup kitchens were gone. Now I don’t know how I’m going to do In the house of her neighbor, the alleged thief, a girl of about four years waits for the car at the door to deliver her container.

Neighbors deliver the containers previously to be sanitized
Neighbors deliver the containers previously to be sanitized Source: LA NACION – Credit: Rodrigo Néspolo

Back at the starting point, Araceli says that this sector of the neighborhood is heavily crossed by

addictions and vandalism

. “Here they have stolen the door, the windows, even the toilet. We cannot leave anything of value,” he says, from inside the community room they built with the support of Techo, on land that belongs to the local church and that was given to them to function two years ago. “But I think that with the pot the neighbors began to value our task more. Luckily, for more than a month we have not suffered any type of vandalism,” he adds.

Araceli Ledesma, referent of the Lagomarsino Neighborhood Work Table
Araceli Ledesma, referent of the Lagomarsino Neighborhood Work Table Source: LA NACION – Credit: Rodrigo Néspolo

Identity and credibility

That it is the residents themselves who manage and organize according to the needs of the neighborhood is, according to this woman, a characteristic that is valued among them. “Nobody better than ourselves to know what we need. To work without losing sight of our identity as a neighborhood. That we are us gives greater credibility to what we do in our community. Politicians generally ignore the capacity of the neighbor .

Successive governments have been served by our ignorance

. But we are not anti government. We want to articulate with the State, with the living room, with the priest, with the pastor, with the social workers, with the neighbors who can offer different capacities, “he adds.

Araceli and Sandra take care of serving the rations in the previously sanitized pots
Araceli and Sandra take care of serving the rations in the previously sanitized pots Source: LA NACION – Credit: Rodrigo Néspolo

Around 13 o’clock the people who come to collect the containers with the food begin to gather. José Luis, another member of the team, takes care that social distance is respected. In line and without any privileges, Araceli’s husband, who lost his job, awaits the day’s ration for himself and the rest of the family. “We will see each other again on the 18th. Due to the hardening of the quarantine, we are not going to be cooking the pot. But we are going to give them some telephone numbers so that they can be contacted if they need anything,” the woman announces to those who They are waiting. He also informs them that, along with the food, they will be taking containers with alcohol gel.

People wait to remove food
People wait to remove food Source: LA NACION – Credit: Rodrigo Néspolo

In line is Mireya, a 52-year-old Paraguayan woman who collapses upon hearing the news. “This helped us a lot. Besides the food, they donate things to us from time to time. Cleaning supplies. The other day they gave us potatoes, which luckily I kept to support ourselves. We are 6 of family and we did not receive any assistance. but just now I was able to get my papers out. I couldn’t manage the IFE or anything. We will find a way to continue subsisting “, he explains with a voice.

Behind him is Sonia, a 35-year-old woman, married with three children. Although she receives the Allowance for her children and also obtained the IFE, she says that in the family economy she feels the lack of income of her husband, who lost his job when the pandemic began. “I come from Misiones, I grew up in dining rooms. But I had never needed to come to one as an adult. And within everything I am privileged. Among my neighbors, things are very, very difficult,” she says.

At the end of the day, everything is cleaned and stored until the next pot
At the end of the day, everything is cleaned and stored until the next pot Source: LA NACION – Credit: Rodrigo Néspolo

Some of those who withdraw are children. “At first we refused to have them withdraw because they can get burned. But we realized that the only thing that happened was that the boys ran out of food,” Araceli explains. After filling the last container, the day concludes with a closed applause for all those who made the pot possible. What follows is a community lunch, where people talk and share the day. At the entrance to the property, some people keep coming. They don’t have anything to eat and they want to know if their neighbors can help them.

If you want to contact Techo:


You can also collaborate with the Lagomarsino Neighborhood Worktable:

Single account:

792-031893 / 8 Banco Santander


César Darío Ayala




[email protected]



Publicado en el diario La Nación

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