Jorge Hernández with his mother Isabel and the bottle tops collected at his school.
A pharmacy. A hairdressers. A nursery school and a shop selling handicrafts. Even Limasa, the street cleaning company. These are all taking part in an ongoing campaign to raise money for Jorge Hernández, a seven year old boy with a rare degenerative disorder, ataxia telangiectasia.
Jorge, who lives in Puerto de la Torre, is one of only 25 children with the disorder in Spain and the only one in Malaga province. He has problems walking, eating, getting dressed and he can’t write. His difficulties with mobility will worsen with time. There’s no treatment for his condition and no cure.
However the Spanish family association for ataxia telelangiectasa (Aefat) is trying to raise funds to launch national research into the disorder and need between 50,000 and 60,000 euros.
Jorge’s family took up the challenge to raise the funds needed and from January of this year have encouraged those around them to collect plastic bottle tops. These fetch 20 cents per kilo at the plastic recycling centre Replasur (in the Santa Teresa industrial estate) and so far 17 tonnes have been gathered.
Jorge’s mother, Isabel Olea, says that she wasn’t expecting such a fantastic response. “I knew that people were supportive but not as much as this”, she says, adding that through her family’s fund-raising campaign, “I’ve met so many great people”.
It’s true that all kinds of organisations have got involved. Limasa have put their ‘punto limpio’ (on the Guadalhorce industrial estate near Malaga airport) at the family’s disposition and its street cleaners have also offered to collect bottle tops on their daily rounds. There are also a number of collection points throughout the province and a blog about the campaign (see box for details).
The head of Replasur, José Luis Delgado, whose company is the destination point for all the bottle tops collected, confirms that he’s very happy to be part of the initiative even though the process is time-consuming. “It’s amazing to see how generous people are”, he says as a shoe box of bottle tops comes into the depot from Tarifa.