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Coronavirus Covid-19: Netherlands, the “network of love” and the “food bank” of the diocese of Rotterdam

A “network of love” woven with a great variety of “creative actions” is the one that came to life in the diocese of Rotterdam. To show solidarity with the local tulip growers, the Parish of St John, which brings together five different communities, bought a lot of 200 bunches of tulips, which a group of volunteers then handed out to families with the Easter wishes. The initiative was started by a pastoral assistant, Rob Lijesen, who explained it with these words: “When we had problems in Rotterdam, the bulb growers always helped us out. Now that they are struggling, we show them our support with a gesture”. In addition, the Lenten solidarity campaign that had been launched to support vocational education and entrepreneurship in the developing countries has gone on, online. Added to this, Jos Schalwijk’s plan for collecting work-tools to be sent to Africa, along with the money: “Now that many businesses have been shut down due to the coronavirus, people are spending their time tidying up”. So, a box was put in a hardware shop to collect any unused tools. “It’s doing well”, he commented. Another initiative is the food bank: churches are open for prayers, and food donations are a recurring effort. It was Rob Lijesen, again, who for instance asked the parishioners for fruit: “We managed to fill up about sixty bags of fruit”, which have then been handed out. “Giving to others who have less is in the communities’ genes. And the parishioners, who have little, give themselves”.

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