They have never seen their faces, they do not know their surnames or how long they will be in Rota, but the Roteños do not care. Since they learned that some 800 Afghans were going to arrive at the air base, an improvised solidarity movement was launched that has exceeded all expectations.
You could not imagine Leticia Armstrong from Rota when she began to send messages to her friends and acquaintances to ask for basic necessities for the evacuees from Afghanistan that was going to be the beginning of an unstoppable chain. “When I found out that those from Afghanistan were arriving at the base, I sent a message to my family and friends to help. The best way was to donate toys or clothes to send them through American colleagues who live in Rota. They did not ask us for anything. kind of help, but within the base they volunteered and in the meetings they held they already spoke of the need to gather basic products “.
Above all, women and children have arrived at the US base in Rota and the intention is to make their stay as bearable as possible. At this time they are accommodated in a sealed enclosure, inside the tents erected on the base’s baseball field. They arrived on Friday, but there are many locals who work tirelessly thinking about them since the beginning of the week.
The Iglesia del Carmen is the main collection point. And it should be noted that it is a citizen initiative because although the Delegation of Social Services of the City Council promised to coordinate the work, the municipal aid has been scarce, according to the people who have been collecting the material for a week.
“We have done it to show love to those people who are fleeing from that situation and to see that there are still good people in the world. We do not care about races or colors and we never know what can happen to us. It has surprised me a lot and never I would have imagined that so many people would come to collaborate, “admits Leticia.
The Brotherhood of Love and the Brotherhood of the Holy Burial have carried out the initiative and have had the help of taxi drivers from Rota, the Ferris transport company and many individuals from Rota and from the United States. “First they asked us for clothes and toys, then compresses, and diapers and milk for the babies. From the base they have told us that nothing more can be sent and what has not been sent will be saved in case a new notice arrives. Han Many shops, hotels and supermarkets have also collaborated. They have not called from all over Spain and some orders have come directly to the church through Amazon “, explains José Manuel Sánchez, another of the volunteers.
Spending a while in the Iglesia del Carmen is seeing the constant arrival of people and families laden with bags and boxes. “We want to help these people who are going through these difficulties and in some way instill those values in our children so that tomorrow they will also be supportive as we try to be their parents,” explains Ángel Vázquez, a vacationer who feels involved like any other roteño.
“The heart that people have is so great that it causes this to be revolutionized in this way,” says excited Valle, one of the coordinators. Officials of the United States Government, Spanish military, the Red Cross and the volunteers of the base are looking after the well-being of the new arrivals, but some collaborators have appeared that were not counted on.
“People from Seville, Madrid or Malaga called. A lady offered us to come from Almería and stopping by different cities collecting things. We have been shocked to see how so many people have turned over, it is to be proud”, remarks José Esteban Peña, another of the volunteers. Laura, a former military officer, has not been surprised by the reaction of her people. “I have always liked helping and this has been a very great opportunity to collaborate. The people of Rota have always been very supportive and not knowing the people they help is not an impediment.”