Changing lives in the time of COVID-19

Will we ever be the same? This pandemic has been a wakeup call for so many. With our lives abruptly upended six weeks ago, the uncertainty of our present and future has brought forth fear and anxiety in many of us. At the same time, it has given us space to reflect and has created in some a realignment of priorities.

A few days ago, I saw, all huddled together around a table deep in concentration, several of the young homeless men staying with us at the foundation during the crisis. Curious, I went to investigate and saw them taking turns cutting into a thin piece of plywood with a knife. Having no idea what they were up to, but seeing it was a rather harmless activity, I left them alone. (Probably not so harmless for the poor, already dull knife, but for them, they were being calm and quiet which is a welcome relief in a house of 34 people.) The next day, I spotted them sitting around the same table as before, but this time playing what looked like a game of Parcheesi. I did not remember us having that game at the foundation, then it hit me as to what they had been doing yesterday – they had transformed that old piece of plywood into a beautiful board game, had painted it and everything. They called it ‘The Buzz’, and it was more than just a name – it was a statement. A statement that these young men who were formerly drug and alcohol addicts had worked together to come up with an idea and create something useful to help them enjoy themselves while passing the time. Their “Buzz” this time around came not from their usual, self-destructive sources, but from a new source – this time one that was entirely cooperative and constructive.

These young men have been learning to take on responsibility while staying at the foundation. Each one is given instructions on how to complete their designated tasks, and they are learning to both cook and clean. These youth, all a bit rough around the edges, who have never had to follow ordinary rules while living on the street, have suddenly been thrust into a situation where strict rules are a part of their everyday lives. With our support, they have been given a new way of looking at how to live. How to enjoy themselves without drugs and alcohol. Without the constant worry of waking up tomorrow under some bridge with empty stomachs, they also have been given their own space to reflect and consider how their lives could be different.

Some of them tell me that they like having this safe space to just be for a while, to live, and to think. Others are struggling to follow the rules, getting restless, and some have decided to leave. While it is hard to watch one leave, we know that we are not going to be successful with all of them. Every one of these young men has to own his own decisions. But for those who are tired with how they have been living, this pandemic has been an opportunity for them to assess what is important, and to consider if a change is something for which they want to work. We have hope that, for many of these young men who we are helping right now, this change will be both positive and permanent.

To make a contribution in support of our work helping those most in need, you can donate online at: If you prefer to make a donation through bank transfer or would like to make a cash donation or in-kind donation of items, please contact us. Thank you for helping us to help others – we could not do it without you.

Garry Vatcher: 099 094 7611. Call after: 6 AM.

City: Cuenca

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