a container space in the middle of the Tierras Argentinas neighborhood

The grandmother approaches with the granddaughter by the hand. She crosses the fence that separates the pink walls of the picnic area from the sidewalk, sucks the mongrel dog that accompanies her and continues walking towards the front door. He takes out of his pocket a rolled ten peso bill and puts it in the “silver for gas” can. And she is proud that, at least today, she can help with something. Only then does she go in to look for the tapper with food that, anyway, was already waiting for her.

The “Una Ilusión” dining room began operating eight years ago, in the middle of the Tierras Argentinas neighborhood, in the area that runs from Don Bosco at 2,300 to Parque Sesquicentenario. At that time, hundreds of families disputed the land, claiming they had no opportunities to find another place to live. The needs were visible to all, but few were taken care of.

Soledad Acosta, a housewife who had just arrived in the neighborhood, was the one who could not look the other way due to the need that surrounded her.

“When Mom said she was going to make a dining room for the neighborhood kids, we thought she was crazy. If we didn’t have anything left over!” CNN Radio Bahia, Damián (19), one of Soledad’s children, who also joins in the solidarity work and distributes the giblets donated by the refrigerator where he works for various dining rooms in the area.

“I saw so many boys walking around in the street … I realized that they needed to eat. One day I grabbed a pot, a couple of plates and the milk I could get. That’s how I started. Many came. More and more,” he said. Loneliness.

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Today, they exceed 200.

From the kitchen, the pots overflow with red bubbles of sauce, rice, chicken and squash. The cooks take care that the treasure does not burn and they stir it over and over again with the wooden trowel. The little smell pierces the emotional memory. And suddenly, it is impossible not to think about childhood midday at grandmothers’ house.

Due to the pandemic, the boys will not eat at the place. They remove the tappers with the hot meal of the day, which also includes a portion for their families, so the collaborators prepare 350 portions of stew, stew, noodles or rice, as achieved, three times a week.

“The donations are few, but I cannot lower my arms. We have municipal help but it is not enough. Even so, we promised to provide a plate of food three times a week, because the needs are increasing.”

For this reason, very early in the oven sector, bread leans round and golden like a big heart. Four women knead more than 40 kilos of flour, three times a week.

Around noon everything is ready and tidy. It is time to give.

Outside two or three boys are waiting. They are thirsty. They then grab the hose that emerges from a large black tank and pour themselves into their mouths at ease. That tank at the entrance is magical, especially on hot days. It is the solidarity water reserve. Not only is it used for cooking and cleaning at the picnic area, but families resort to it, especially in the evenings, when the water pressure is minimal.

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The dining room is painted pink. It is easy to recognize from the dirt streets that surround it and the brick or sheet-metal gray houses.

The little hands stamped on its façade are the reflection of violated childhoods. Balloons painted on one side do not fly. And the blue doll that offers the welcome hides a sadness behind its big smile. Yet always, but always, smile.

To help

A Illusion picnic area, Ugarte 3,600, telephone 291-642 9247 (Soledad).

You need food, diapers, blankets, mattresses, socks, gloves, alcohol gel. In addition, fabrics, threads and a sewing machine, to be able to carry out a mini-chinstrap-making ventures.

Myrtle Frost

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