When the outbreak first happened in Wuhan, China, most of us just lived our lives as if it was happening in another planet; oblivious to the virus quietly but quickly starting to spread in many parts of the globe. We watched in awe and silent horror as cities in China appeared like ghost towns, counting ourselves fortunate that we didn't live in those cities. But then it started happening in South Korea, in Japan, in Iran, in Italy, in France, in Germany, in the UK, in the US, in Taiwan, in Russia, in Singapore, in the rest of the world, and dreadfully: at home in the Philippines.
When lockdown of Metro Manila was declared mid-March, most of us thought that it would be over in a couple of weeks' time and that things would be back to normal before long. The two weeks turned to a month, than to two months, and then three. Groceries started rationing the most basic necessities. Movement became strictly regulated. And we became the ghost towns we saw a mere few weeks before. Businesses were closed, events cancelled, transportation stopped. An unprecedented event in modern times.
As the realization that it would take a long time, perhaps years, for the virus to be quenched and things go back to normal, businesses started to close for good leaving workers without jobs. Without work to tend for their families and with limited government assistance, a significant number turned to begging in the streets.
We started to notice that there are more people on the streets now begging for food. A lot of them carrying signs that they lost work and need food. They didn't look like the usual beggars one would find on the streets. Some of them looked like they had jobs just some time ago. This struck a chord in our heart and we decided to do something about it.
Once a week, we would drive around the city giving away food. We started calling this advocacy, Joyride. At first it was just us giving from spare groceries and what food we had in the fridge. We then started to intentionally purchase food items to give away when we would do a grocery run; packing them in care bags for easy and quick distribution. We would drive around Quezon Avenue, West Avenue, Cubao, and other places. Often times, the packages we would bring would run out quickly due to the number of people needing help. We realized that we couldn't do this alone without help from others.
We decided to do a special online concert in celebration of Joann's birthday, but with the secondary purpose of raising funds to help procure more food packages to give away. A number of people responded and because of them we were able to sustain giving for a few more weeks. To see the joy in the faces of people young and old on the streets when we give them the packages is priceless.
We know that giving small food packs will not change the world, or save us from the situation we're in. We know that it would not even change the situation of the people we give the packs to. But it might just give them the chance to fight another day. A relief to ease their hunger to live another day. Some fuel for their bodies so they could find more sustainable ways to live better days. What we are doing is small compared to the magnitude of the devastation before us. But a forest starts with a small seed, and a city starts with a small child.
We noticed that helping out nowadays is not a hard thing to do. So many people need help. And we believe that we make the world a better place when we lend a helping hand. So we encourage you to do this in your own community or city as well. Hopefully, better days will come again. And days will be better when we start making them better in our own small ways.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke
Here is more information if you would like to help out: www.harproom.com/joyride