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Human Rights Club Launches Initiative to Volunteer with Vecinas de Lavapiés

by Katie Gortz on 03/02/2020

The SLU-Madrid Human Rights Club (HRC) is lending a hand at the Vecinas de Lavapiés Food Bank to prepare, package and distribute meals to at-risk families and the homeless in downtown Madrid. The participating SLU-Madrid students have prepped close to 200 meals so far and hope to reach 800 by the end of the semester. 

Last spring, the nationwide lockdown brought grievous hardship to many across Spain, particularly those who were already living in a state of economic vulnerability before the onset of the pandemic. The Vecinas de Lavapiés Food Bank was established in response by an active neighborhood association, Plataforma La CuBa (Lavapiés, cuidando el barrio), which has embarked on a myriad of locally based initiatives, such as a Lavapiés neighborhood soccer league (Dragones de Lavapiés). The organization recognized that many of the individuals and families who play in the soccer league were in situations of extreme economic hardship and needed assistance to ensure minimum sustenance. At the height of the crisis, Vecinas de Lavapiés offered bundles of essential foods and hygiene products to more than 500 families (approximately 2,000 people) and distributed 30 meals a day to people who were living on the street. Today, the food bank continues to serve approximately 100 poverty-stricken families and 200 homeless people in the district. 

HRC co-leaders Monica Carroll and Lamia Seffar, who were aware of the important work being carried out by Vecinas de Lavapies, reached out to inquire about volunteering for the food bank. "Upon speaking with the leaders of this organization, we found that they are in need of more cooks and thought that HRC members would be the perfect fit," said Seffar. Within two weeks, Carroll, Seffar and six members of the club were cooking and packaging meals for the organization. 

Monica Carroll preparing meals
Monica Carroll, co-leader of the SLU-Madrid Human Rights Club prepares a garbanzo and spinach stew to distribute among at-risk families and homeless people in downtown Madrid. 

"Word of our project is spreading fast and participation is growing by the day," said Carroll. "We aspire to engage with as many members of the SLU-Madrid community as possible."

For Carroll, the project suits not only her interest in helping others but also cooking. "One of the many reasons I love this project is because I am passionate about cooking and this a way to combine my interest of giving to others and making food," she explained.

"It has been great to get involved and do some hands-on work to help out those who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. I am very passionate about working with organizations that reflect my beliefs of helping the community while promoting human dignity," said Seffar.

Moving forward, Seffar and Carroll hope to launch a food donation or fundraising campaign in an effort to provide the organization with additional resources to serve those in need. In the meantime, interested parties may make donations at any time through the Vecinas de Lavapiés Paypal