19 Mar 2013
As Dignipac celebrates its second year running (YAY, we are two years old!) Nicky and I thought it appropriate to share some of the experiences that we have encountered in Mediteranea´s endeavour to make life more dignified for those who are more unfortunate than everyone.
From the sometimes embarrassing bulk shopping - bumping into a distant friends husband in Mercadona with a shopping trolley overflowing with toilet paper, or worse, sanitary products, and him NOT asking why........and you know that he has noticed!
Or loading up the trolley with 110 litre bottles of shampoo,(half of which we each buy) which is a lot, pushing the damn thing in a hurry to get to that one check out lane that has a lone elderly woman buying some galletas and leche.... then panicking when the trolley reaches an uncontrollable speed and there is a very real danger of mowing down someone´s beloved abulea.
Or my absolute favourite.....buying all the Dignipac hygiene products and then at the check out, usually at Mercadona, I need to buy bags to make up our Dignipacs. We have found, with good reason, people are happier carrying a bag that displays a supermarket logo as opposed to a rubbish bag or something similar. Anyway, month after month I assure the lovely ladies at the check out that Mercadona packs their plastic bags in groups of 100.......and I would like to purchase 3 packs - or 300 bolsas de plastico. All this I say in my bad Spanish, and then, I look them in the eye, very closely, and just smile......... big cheesy one actually.......well, no, the bigger one comes after they have finished counting. I must learn how to say ´told you so´in Spanish.
What we have to mention is the help that our young people have contributed over the past two years.......Alice, Katy, Matilde, Sebastian, Lucy, Tomas and others. Of course these jovens cannot contribute with the shopping but the hard work is also in the packing of the bags. We set up in my garage in Costa den Blanes and have like a chain gang type of system. But of course, all these products need to be sorted out, toothbrushes need to be separated, razors need to be put on one bag, the dreaded loo rolls and pads in their own places. 70 Dignipacs are made up for the women and 150 for the men. Everyone takes two bags and goes down the procession of goods, then each bag is tied up. Nicky and I, looking after our poor old backs have been known to take a break, cuppa tea whilst these young people make a contribution that is so very much appreciated.
Which brings me around to our distribution - firstly, Angel, who runs Zaqueo ( the soup kitchen in Palma) is the most amazing person and along with the unseen volunteers, deserve a round of applause. We have been at Zaqueo in the summer, and these good souls are working in a local about 45 sq metres, no fans, no air conditioning in stifling temperatures, shirts opaque with sweat.... Maybe we should find fans?
But, Dignipac, most importantly is about our homeless people, they exist in all shapes, sizes, colours and languages. We try in the summer to provide footwear (anyone who has size 43 and upwards, we want your flip-flops, shoes, sandals (NOW) as there are so many lovely African men with feet the size of ironing boards.) and the winter we find specials in Carrefour and include socks and underwear. We also always need blankets, warm jackets and socks! Socks! Our last distribution was in mid February and by chance we had in the van a few boxes of clothes, jackets and a big bag of socks. Well, we were practically mobbed for the socks, so please keep this in mind. There was a very humble man that came up to us and told us that he is a poet and that he had gotten into a fight with some gypsies (gitantos) who had beaten him up, stolen his money and most of his clothes. He had found an ill fitting jacket and someone had given him a pair of trousers. He was worried, as are most of our homeless that the Dignipac pack will run out before he is finished and he will not be able to have one. We assured him that we would keep a Dignipac aside for him and that he should have his meal in peace, no problems. Our homeless have to eat at the soup kitchen before they get the Dignipac- Anyway, we rummaged through this box in the van and we found him a big, warm fleecy jacket. Upon his return, we gave him his Dignipac and the jacket - and, hand on my heart.............hairs on my arm raising here ........ this amazing guy gave us all, slowly and with a lot of thought , a poem, each of us in turn - me - I´m Fee, Nicky and Soren ...........right there, right then. His eyes glistening, heart open, smile upon his face. Awesome, bloody awesome experience.....
A very wonderful person, she knows who I am talking about ...... donated clothes, blankets and a big warm, fleecy jacket last distribution. And, I have to share this...........I was standing by the car, there was a feeding frenzy with the socks, Nicky was manning the Dignipac table, I had a man who told me that he was a sailor, probably an ex sailor, but he needed warm clothing. An African boy of about 23 years old was also peering over his back. Interestingly, there were two people standing next to him - we had run out of socks by then :-) I rummaged about the box and all I could find for this ex sailor was a hoody in bizarre colors......which he was very happy for. We were so amazed when I found a Slam jacket, light blue that fitted this young African boy so well and warm.. Big smiles all around. In the box were three blankets.......next to Zaqueo about 5 to 10 people live on the street, under some amazing arches, I grabbed the blankets, walked over and in my crap Spanish, said, do you want these? There were whoops of joy..............my heart feels good that we can help, if even a small way.
When all was said and done, Soren and I were going endlessly through the box of clothes..........we only had one........there was a man who looked at me beseechingly...........I did tell him in my embarrassingly bad Spanish that there were no clothes left for blokes.........and, sorry, sweetie, I will make a note for next time. As a joke I pulled out a poncho that was made by the very wonderful woman whom I was talking about....This poncho isn´t your bog standard poncho. Aila made it ............and it is classy, brown and turquoise!
Well, what a hit with this homeless man..........his first reaction was ä mi encanta!! - and then I gave him the matching scarf. - mi encanta....again............such a happy man...............
My message to everyone - do you self a favour - do someone else a favour x