After months and months of reading news filled with the words unprecedented, uncertain, unexpected, unnecessary, unfair (and the list of un-words goes on), we believe now is the time for the 2020 rhetoric to shift to a positive note. Yes, so many lives have been flipped upside down and back again – and a lot of them might be flipping all over again – however these challenging times have also revealed some truly inspiring stories, uncovered incredibly motivational people, and highlighted the wonderfully good side of the human spirit. If you feel like you need a break from scrolling through election results, lockdown rules, travel restrictions, virus statistics, conspiracy theories and even banal celebrity gossip, please don’t put down your device just yet – these kind-hearted and hard-working Ibiza organisations need a little help from our friends and will give you a reason to smile.
This island has long been associated with hedonism, excess and wealth, but those who live here all year round know that for many islanders, the off-season months can be hard. When the crisis hit Ibiza back in March, a new non-profit organisation was launched by Ibiza entrepreneur Luke Peppe, and a passionate team of volunteers, to ensure no family in Ibiza went hungry while the island was in lockdown. What no one could have anticipated was the incredulous number of people in Ibiza who – due to reasons beyond their control – could not afford to put food on the table for their families. At the same time, another inspiring local, Marco Martín, was also doing his best to provide food to those in Ibiza who were struggling through his own initiative, Carritos Solidarios MM. Fast forward to today, and the two charities have joined forces to create a super-charity, and are currently providing food to well over 6000 people per week in Ibiza (in addition to the local Caritas, run by Cruz Roja). On an island with a population of around 150,000, that figure is truly heartbreaking and the reality is – it may rise as we head into deep winter, with many restaurants, bars and hotels that would normally be open all year round being forced into temporary closure, along with the farms and providers that may have supplied them.
You could fill any of Ibiza’s superclubs to the brim with 6000 people on any given night of the week last year – and today, the same amount are on the brink of going hungry each day. There are now many regular food drives taking place around the island – for example in schools, in over 70 supermarkets or at major meeting points – plus raffles, competitions and auctions being created to help raise money that will be converted to food vouchers for fresh meat and dairy products at Spar supermarkets around the island (find out more at the link below). The charities are also calling for volunteers, to man supermarket trolley collection points and help distribute over seven tonnes to Ibiza families each week. While the lockdown itself lasted a few months, the knock-on effects will continue throughout the entire upcoming winter and perhaps beyond – if you’re not on the island, but are in a position to help those who need it, you can also make a financial donation via the link. And if you are in Ibiza, and you are struggling to find money to eat, or are perhaps sacrificing your own health and welfare in order to provide for your family, please don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for assistance, without judgement. No one should ever go hungry, on an island where so many people live in such abundance.
If there’s anything that the lockdown has taught society – above and beyond washing our hands, coughing into our elbows and learning what an effective social distance is – it’s that cats are well and truly the leaders of the universe. What would a lockdown day be without a steady stream of cat memes? In fact, were you even on Instagram if you didn’t LOL at a snap of a cat, or indeed, post one yourself? Ibiza has always been known as an island that is sympathetic to the plight of feral or stray cats, with a handful of local non-profit organisations and an army of volunteers focusing on rescuing abandoned or mistreated kitties, trapping and neutering colonies of cats in the wild to avoid overpopulation and also keeping said colonies fed, watered and as healthy as possible, plus re-homing those cats who’ve been dumped, rescued and nursed back to health.
Care 4 Cats is perhaps the best known cat charity on the island, having been established over 20 years ago and growing ever since. Fortunately, throughout the lockdown, volunteers were able to get permits to continue their feeding and rescue efforts, however once the island was reopened for business, the charity lost almost 50% of its funding due to the pandemic. On one side, this is due to the fact many of the government trusts the association received grants from have temporarily closed down, and the other it’s the fact that they have received less donations. Of course, it’s completely understandable that in these times people aren’t able to give as generously as they may have been able to in the past, if at all, yet this doesn’t stop the clowders of cats around the island requiring food and medical assistance on a day to day basis – not to mention breeding (and multiplying rapidly) if they aren’t sterilised. If you are in a position to make even the smallest donation to these most wonderful organisations, please click the link below. If you’re here on the island and want to do more, you can volunteer to foster rescue kittens while they wait to be rehomed, or – even better – why not adopt your very own Ibiza rescue cat? Sabine’s Cats is an amazing animal rescue centre who work tirelessly to rescue and rehome cats – but if you aren’t able to adopt, you can still make donations of pet food or money through the link.
Meanwhile, down at ground level – literally – there’s another population in Ibiza that’s constantly in need of assistance, and that’s the island’s hedgehogs. While these cute little bundles are definitely spikey, they are (sadly) not always the sharpest tools in the shed. Hedgehogs often find themselves in all kinds of trouble, for example, by wandering off onto the roads at night time, by wandering into people’s yards and being attacked by other animals, and even by eating slugs, which infect them with parasites. Enter Can Hog – a hedgehog hospital run by founder Adila Hiam, who initially used to take in rescued hedgehogs and hoglets that she’d spot on her travels in Ibiza. Over time, she began to become known as Ibiza’s official caregiver – and as the animals are protected in Ibiza, she undertook a qualification in order to be able to nurse them back to health – and Can Hog turned from a big-hearted hobby to a full-time hospital.
While hedgehogs may not be physically affected by lockdowns or human health crises, Can Hog is, as less tourists have visited the island to leave donations, and less local people are able to volunteer, or make donations of cat food (yes, that’s what nurses them back to health – anything but fish-flavoured, in case you were wondering) due to their personal limitations. At the same time, there’s around a hedgehog per day dropped off at Can Hog for rehabilitation and they often take up to six weeks to heal. You can find cute bumper stickers at shops around the island, offer to foster a little patient or orphaned hoglet as it builds up strength to be released into the wild, or make a donation to feeding and vet costs via the link below if you have a little extra to share with these tiny members of the Ibiza ecosystem.
Sure, cats get most of the glory on the internet, but it’s lovely, loyal dogs who receive more screen time, be it in television shows, TV commercials or in movies. Toto, Scooby Doo, Cujo, Lassie, Snoopy, Old Yeller, Rin Tin Tin, Santa’s Little Helper and even the cynical Brian Griffin – the list is almost never-ending. And just like Ibiza’s homeless and helpless hoglets and kittens, there are plenty of shelter dogs out there looking for new homes, or volunteers to help them stretch their legs each day, in addition to shelters seeking donations of blankets, beds, bowls, food, medication and of course, money.
You can’t put a value on the love of a four-legged friend, and during these times when people may be experiencing less human contact than usual, that’s all the more reason to adopt a pooch! A dog gives you a reason to bounce out of bed in the mornings, to get out amongst nature, and also a warm furry heartbeat to snuggle up to at night. Here in Ibiza, Sa Coma is an animal shelter in the heart of the island, that’s currently in desperate need of help in any way you possibly can. A lot of the dogs in the shelter are large dogs, that require plenty of walking and volunteers are encouraged to visit the shelter and take a hound out in the beautiful surrounding countryside for an hour or so on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am to 11am, and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. Adoption, of course, is the ultimate end game and it’s hard not to fall in love with each dog you walk – they’ve all perfected the art of ‘puppy dog eyes’. Visit the link to see some of the sweet faces looking for new families, and find out more about volunteering, adoption or donating.
It’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Ibiza, as the towns and villages have started stringing their Christmas lights in the streets, and the local government are encouraging residents across the island to decorate their homes and apartments in an effort to bring as much socially distanced festivity as possible to end the year with a sparkly bang. Sadly, all the usual Christmas events for kids – such as the annual fun fair and the big Three Kings parade, plus markets and special parties – have been put on hold for 2020 (for obvious reasons) but there’s talk of sending Santa and his elves through all the streets of each town so kids don’t feel that the Grinch has taken over the island.
There’s no denying this Christmas is going to be tough on many people around the globe this year, and here in Ibiza it’s no different. Some may experience mental health struggles without being able to travel to see their nearest and dearest, and others – as above – may find it difficult to put food on the table each day, let alone prepare a festive feast or source gifts from Santa. With this in mind, a local NGO – Equip Voluntari, who also work alongside Ibiza Food Bank – have launched a Christmas gift donation program to ensure every child in Ibiza receives a Christmas gift this year. At the moment they have over 200 kids on their list, which is no doubt increasing by the day. If you’ve got the ability to play Secret Santa for an Ibiza child who otherwise may feel as if they’ve been put on the naughty list, Equip Voluntari has seven collection points across the island where you can leave a wrapped gift for boys and girls in three age groups (babies to 36 months, children 3 to 12 and teenagers 13 to 18). Santa is definitely considered a key worker in these challenging times – but he might need a little anonymous help from his friends to make sure every kid in Ibiza gets a gift this year.