Fear, closures and loss of jobs have dominated the last couple of months all around the globe. But as the world fought off a pandemic and tried to keep up with all of 2020’s challenges, a continent-wide effort has made heroes out of everyday European civilians, and we owe these amazing people everything.
Lovin Malta sat down with three of these everyday heroes, representing incredible initiatives that have helped feed and support their communities in Malta, Hungary and Romania.
In Malta, popular chef Rafel Sammut brought back a wartime concept.
Sammut restarted the Victory Kitchen decades after the end of the Second World War, preparing hundreds of meals a day to feed Malta’s most vulnerable and most struggling.
“It’s a mix of understanding and anticipating the situation that COVID-19 was going to have on families who are already struggling,” Sammut said. “My chefs and I also wanted to put ourselves to good use. We are used to working long hours every week and sitting at home wasn’t doing justice.”
Soon enough, a number of restaurants from all over Malta, from Swieqi and Attard to Ħamrun and Qormi, joined the initiative, helping to produce even more meals for people in need.
In Hungary, another chef managed to turn a huge personal disappointment into an awesome new push.
Chef Márton Keve is no stranger to fine dining. Having lived abroad for a number of years, he had even interned at Pujol, one of North America’s most highly rated restaurants. Returning to his home country earlier this year, Márton was all set to become the head chef of Easy Wine, a contemporary wine bar in Budapest. Then all hell broke loose.
When plans fell through due to COVID-19’s arrival in Hungary, Márton was left with a whole lot of newfound free time, but instead of sitting it all out, he decided to do something about it.
Using the newly-emptied kitchen, Márton came up with #Etesdadokit, a concept to quite literally Feed The Doctors. Soon enough, his team was preparing over 100 servings of of lunch – with a fine dining twist – every day to hospital staff.
In Romania, young volunteers have been helping vulnerable people in self-isolation by providing a shoulder to lean on and even doing their shopping.
Raluca Paraschiv, president of NGO Geeks for Democracy, has been helping coordinate call centres in Bucharest through the initiative Cumpărături la ușa ta.
Literally translating to Shopping To Your Door, the movement has reached out to a number of communities all across the country. From the elderly community to a number of differently abled citizens, Geeks For Democracy has helped out by doing the shopping for a number of people, be it to top up their medicine supply or even to help them stock up on groceries and essentials.
Sometimes, volunteers even add flowers to the shopping bags, to remind those less fortunate or more vulnerable that, no matter what might be going on around the world, they will never be alone.
Meanwhile, the European Union has churned out its own list of initiatives to make sure no citizen gets left behind.
In Brussels, the European Parliament’s Kohl building was completely repurposed, with offices being transformed into bedrooms and the building now being used as a temporary shelter for 100 vulnerable women.
The EP’s kitchens in Luxembourg and Brussels are also busy producing thousands of meals every single day, helping feed both medical staff at Saint Pierre Hospital and those in need through a collaboration with various charities.
Cars and trucks from the Parliament’s fleet have been made available to support these new initiatives, transporting supplies and delivering meals across the city.
Beyond this, an extension of FEAD, the European Union’s Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, was approved in April, making sure food aid and basic material assistance is reachable by the people who need it most.
FEAD helps around 13 million people in the EU every single year, and this latest extension will undoubtedly go a long way for many.
Clearly, in a time when shock, panic, loss and uncertainty have dominated headlines worldwide, one word resonated louder than all of those back in Europe: solidarity.
And it is thanks to everyday heroes like Rafel, Márton and Raluca – and countless others – that we can finally start planning for the light at the end of the tunnel.