“I have two younger brothers, and in this quarantine, we have been trying to distract ourselves, but even so it seems that every day is the same. I feel how you feel, isolated. But I believe that everything will return to normal. In fact, when we return, we will be stronger, and the world will be waiting for us. Don't let this pandemic make you sad”- is an excerpt from one of the letters that elderly people from the municipality of Gaia, in the district of Porto, will receive.
The idea came from Mariana Costa, a student at the Secondary School Dr. Joaquim Gomes Ferreira Alves, parish of Valadares, and the challenge was launched to the 12 school groups and private schools in Gaia by the Youth Office of the City Council.
Speaking to the agency Lusa, the project's mentor confessed to being “very satisfied” with the commitment of young people, considering that “it is important to show the elderly that they are not alone” in the Covid-19 pandemic, which restricted visits to homes and hospitals.
“I am hopeful that they feel that my message [referring to the letter that she wrote herself and to which she added a drawing made as a family] touched their hearts,” said Mariana Costa.
The 17-year-old student had the idea of writing to the elderly when, about two months ago, she participated in a 'workshop' promoted by a youth association, in which topics were covered such as the impact that initiatives can have on the lives of others, and the importance of empathy for others.
“Although it is annoying to be quarantined, it is necessary to protect ourselves. And so I hope that you are also well and that with this letter you will feel my affection for you”- are other phrases that can be read in the letters that will now be shared.
According to the councilor of Youth of the Chamber of Gaia, Elísio Pinto, between 3,500 and 4,000 letters are ready, with the objective of "fighting loneliness" and establishing a bridge of friendship between the different generations, in an initiative without barriers ".
“In Gaia we do nothing without young people and young people from Gaia appear, to us, to have more and more pioneering and new ideas. This is a gesture with tremendous symbolism because it involves the best feelings in the world. It is a very altruistic attitude”, he described.
The mayor confessed to Lusa that he read some of the letters, having found “deep messages of strength, energy and love” that he summarizes in a sentence: “It is almost like the grandchildren who thank what their grandparents did for them”.
Part of this set of letters was delivered today at the Centro Hospitalar de Vila Nova de Gaia / Espinho (CHNVG / E) in a ceremony in which the chairman of the board of directors, Rui Guimarães, introduced the new co-management team for the geriatric patient.
“We all know that when a [elderly] patient is admitted, when he leaves, he finds it very difficult to acquire the skills he had before hospitalization, namely mobility, cognitive functions and insertion in the social environment. This team is dedicated to these situations. We will cooperate with all areas to promote a global assessment of the elderly”, described the team's coordinator, Agripino Oliveira.
According to the official, and according to data from 2013, 40% of hospitalizations in Portugal are for elderly people over 65 years of age. Over the age of 75, that number increases to 70%.
The covid-19 pandemic caused at least 2,792,586 deaths worldwide, resulting from more than 127 million cases of infection, while in Portugal 16,843 people out of 820,716 confirmed cases of infection died.