GNR roam the Algarve’s valleys distributing food and care to isolated elderly population
As soon as two police cars arrive, Sr. António opens the door of his house and goes out into the street with a smile on his face. For him, spending his days practically alone near the town of Tavilhão, next to the Vascão River, this is much more meaningful than a simple visit.
Loulé’s GNR officers have been distributing food to the elderly and isolated population of the municipality, in a solidarity initiative to combat the effects of both physical and social isolation during the pandemic. “There is closeness in these small things and these small gestures”, says the man.
Every Thursday for the past seven weeks, the routine has been the same. A small detachment of police cars have left the GNR station in Loulé for the parishes in the interior of the municipality, such as Alte, Ameixial, Salir and the Union of Parishes of Querença, Tôr and Benafim. The objective is both to deliver food goods and to offer a friendly face to those who living in isolation.
Nuno Policarpo has been, over these weeks, one of the GNR officers to embark on this project. “When we get to the places, there are already people who recognize me”, he says.
The home of Dona Natividade dos Santos, an 82 year old woman living in Corte d’Ouro, was one of the first to be visited by Nuno Policarpo and José Fernando Carrusca, president of the Ameixial Parish Council on their most recent excursion.
“Thank you! This help is very important to me. I really miss it”, says the elderly woman, after receiving the basket with a supply of pasta, powdered milk and canned goods. Dona Natividade lives alone and, even in the her neighbourhood, there are few people who live nearby.
On this visit, Nuno Policarpo and José Fernando Carrusca also take the opportunity to discuss the most recent COVID-19 development, recalling the need to wear a mask. “I know, I know, I usually watch on television”, answers the octogenarian promptly, already wearing a mask previously given to her in a previous visit.
Among the population of the parish of Ameixial, there are two common denominators in the community: old age and isolation.
“I would say that maybe 70% of our population is over 70 years old. Then, as most of the new people don’t stay around, the elderly end up being isolated”, explains the president of the Parish Council.
This is also the case with the previously mentioned António Ferreira. He is 83 years old and has lived away from civilization for 60 years in Tavilhão, a small town near the border between the Algarve and the Alentejo.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic his daughter usually visits him and ensures that he “follows all the precautions”. He makes the most of the short visit though, taking the opportunity to socialize a little. He tells stories of when more people lived in Tavilhão, discussing who the land around his house belongs to and makes estimates of how many people still live there: “about 7 or 8”.
“We noticed that people also like to talk, to hear a friendly word. It is normal, because they live in isolation”, says Mr. Carrusca. Mr. Policarpo couldn’t agree more. “There is that joy, visible, during these visits”, he adds.
“It has been very rewarding. It is a joy for us to see people’s joy. This is also our mission and we try to do our best. With the help they receive, there is always some time when they also do not feel the need to ask for help”, stresses Nuno Policarpo.
Until the end of June this delivery service will continue, always on Thursdays, inside the municipality of Loulé, to distribute food and, above all, a friendly word.
Credit to Sul Informação