LIMA, Peru – “Beatriz Solís-Rosas, heaven won with you.”
That message is read these days on a busy avenue in Lima, one of the thousands that Peruvians have written on advertising panels to say goodbye to their loved ones who died during the time of the coronavirus pandemic.
“For us it is a relief in the soul to see my mother’s name reflected on the panel. It comforts us, makes us happy,” Alfredo Aíta, Beatriz’s eldest son, one of the 142 doctors who have died in Peru due to COVID, tells Efe -19.
In his message, he found consolation that he had not been able to say goodbye to her.
Like Alfredo’s, there are thousands of families who have not been able to say goodbye to their relatives.
Since the pandemic reached Peru in March, a total of 120,000 people have died, 120% more than in the same period in previous years.
They tried to escape after the arrival of the National Police of Peru.
There is an excess of more than 65,000 deaths, of them only 28,000 are due to coronavirus.
Wakes for those killed by COVID-19 are prohibited. At the beginning, all were cremated even without the presence of relatives.
Burial is now allowed but only with a maximum of five direct relatives present.
Peru on Friday surpassed Spain in the number of COVID-19 infections and is the sixth country in the world with the highest number of patients, reporting 247,925 cases, with 3,537 positives in the last 24 hours.
Alfredo did not escape this, he was one of the first to participate in the “Panels to say goodbye” campaign, an initiative developed by fifteen advertising companies that have made some 80 digital panels available to the families and friends of the deceased to publish your farewell messages on them for free.
“Such a campaign is a balm within the pain felt by the 33 million Peruvians living this national tragedy,” said Alfredo, who was never able to say goodbye to his mother, and who now looks with pride at the message he left for her on a panel from Arequipa avenue.
As interprovincial travel was prohibited, she was unable to go to the city of Chiclayo, some 500 miles north of Lima, before her mother, who was a pediatrician, was hospitalized after being infected by her father and brother, to whom she was taking care of.
There was also the discovery of a new temple of the Huari civilization.
Later she was transferred to Lima with her husband, but while he was able to recover, she got worse and ended up dying on May 24 at the age of 72.
Alfredo, who lives in Trujillo, had to break the news to his still hospitalized father and then take the ashes with him from Lima back to Chiclayo.
“It was something very strong and painful. My mother left my house alive and came back to ashes. We couldn’t even give her a hug before she left,” she lamented.
“At that moment I did not cry. Inside myself I thought … how cold my heart! Until three hours later, out of nowhere, an endless cry came to me. Even today that cry sometimes comes to me,” he added.
All you have to do is stop for a few moments in one of these striking advertising panels so that every few seconds a different farewell message appears, each one with a story behind pain and grief similar to Alfredo’s.
“Paco, your waves today are the clouds. We love you”, “Walter, your smile will shine in the sky, brother”, “Always in my heart, beautiful mom” are some of the messages that follow one another with a simple but shocking black lettering on white background
Every ten seconds a different one appears and some are even accompanied by the photo of the person who left, a flash in sight that puts a face to the magnitude of this pandemic that has the world in suspense.
“Papi Félix, thanks for the laughs” gives way to “Edgar Rojas, you are our angel”, and this one to “Papa Wolf, we miss you”, then followed by “We will always love you, Papa ‘Gordito'”, which gives the witness to “Mama Maria, you are the breeze that kisses our faces.”
There is also “Mario Bucana, you will always be with us”, in honor of the veteran and experienced cameraman of the Panamericana television channel, one of the more than 80 journalists who have died in Peru due to the coronavirus.
To publish them, just enter the web www.panelesparadeciradios.com and write a text of maximum 44 characters. After its publication, the author of the message will receive a photo of the panel with their words as a souvenir.
The idea came after many of these panels were left empty or turned off for lack of publicity once the quarantine began. With people in their homes, hardly anyone saw the panels and, with the economy paralyzed, many companies stopped advertising.