Unity in Communities

Virginia RodriguezAugust 11, 2021Connection and Isolation

My country, Paraguay, has a lot of traditions and dates that bring communities together. For example, making a manger in December, with the figurines representing the birth of Christ, which is celebrated on December 25th by those who are Catholic. There is also Saints Day, November 1st, when we visit the graves of the dead to decorate them with flowers. And my favorite activity is in March or April, the Holy Week, when we elaborate on a typical food from my country named chipa. Chipa is made with cassava starch, cornflour, eggs, pork fat, and whey. We have a lot of fun making it. Some families have a type of oven from the Guaranies named "tatakua" that's very difficult to use. When the chipa is done most people share it with their neighbors or communities that are in need.

Last year, everything changed. The preparation of the manger is usually a celebration where siblings, parents, and grandparents get together to make it beautiful for Christmas to receive the baby Jesus, but last year everything was different. We could not get together, we could not travel, we could not celebrate, we had to pray. Saints Day is a day to pray for the dead, and last year it was also a day to pray for those who were fighting for their lives in intensive care. My Holy Week turned out to be sad; I could not see my cousins or grandparents, and making chipa was not fun anymore. We were isolated and started feeling bored, then sad, then depressed.

People tend to feel isolated and lonely for different reasons. From 2020 to the present, there has been a different reason, the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone has to stay at home and practice social distancing. In this case, we can see how vulnerable humans are — we need interaction and the warmth of a hug to feel ourselves. That is why there are groups of people denominated as communities that have activities or events that help us feel comfortable and supported in the environment we live in. Those activities are based on culture, religion, or simple actions that make people feel they belong in the community.

Now I can see the solidarity and warmth that is in my country — that's what makes us feel secure and united. That can bring us so many positive effects, like identifying with the people around us and feeling kinship. Sharing and helping in our community makes us feel more confident in the environment that surrounds us. It is a necessity for everyone to perform different actions of sympathy and love.

Virginia Rodriguez is a 16-year-old from Coronel Oviedo, Paraguay. She enjoys writing, reading, cooking, and painting.