In Seine-Saint-Denis, the districts are fighting against a precariousness accentuated by the virus
As a good morning, a regulatory check of elbows, before the fifteen volunteers plunged under a mountain of packets of pasta and bricks of milk. Against the backdrop of rap, the team is active in the local Les Têtes grêlées, a collective of artists who, since the beginning of the crisis, have organized food distributions in low-cost housing areas in Pantin. Under the masks, their juvenile features appear drawn. At the time of confinement, the nights are short; dense days.
“Bag number 12, is it for Mrs. Boumédiene, Karim’s mother? Questions the wardrobe, slipped into a tracksuit which calls itself “the Butcher”. “I don’t deliver to her, I don’t want to post her son. There are codes to respect, even in times of crisis. Boucher earned this nickname on the football field, where he claims to have “massacred a good bundle of cruciate ligaments”. This does not prevent him from ticking, with the application of a schoolboy, the names of the 80 families who, reported by word of mouth and social workers, benefit from this angel assistance. As the weeks go by, the list grows dramatically. “It’s getting hot,” says Boucher, lapidary.
In this 9-3 department, the poorest in France, the coronavirus has thrown thousands of homes in great precariousness. Disorganized, benefits and other social assistance are slow. Housekeepers, security guards, movers … the army of invisible people who frequently worked in the black market and were already struggling to make ends meet is helpless, helpless. Since the schools are closed, they now also need to provide three meals a day for siblings who are often numerous. “There is a mixture of shame and misunderstanding, linguistic and social barriers that complicate the management of the crisis here,” notes Wodiouma Sylla, head of Hailed heads. The association has a strange name, chosen in honor of its members, “hard and unpredictable”. Today, even the strongest of them are shaken.
In recent days, Wodiouma discovers a new misery in the shade of the towers of the city: “I see well dressed darons sit on their pride to come and ask us for a liter of milk or a packet of diapers. Without solidarity, we will not get out. In Seine-Saint-Denis, where a feeling of abandonment has reigned for a long time, residents never expect much from institutions. As soon as the confinement was decreed, the social actors got organized. Sometimes undermined by steeple quarrels, the local associative community has even sealed a pact of united solidarity around a WhatsApp conversation thread called “Solid 19”. Young people from cities, sores and activists from the far left, for once united around the same cause …
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Find the rest of this report in Paris Match on sale this Thursday, April 30