The northwestern Canary island of La Palma, referred to by people in the Atlantic archipelago as “la isla bonita” (the beautiful island), is currently going through one the worst periods in its history.
Spain’s national government has pledged to speed up delivering aid to the volcano-hit islanders as well as fast-tracking building plans to house those who have lost their homes, land and in many cases sources of income.
But palmeros still need every help they can get, and there are numerous ways in which anyone can do their bit to make it easier for the island’s 85,000 inhabitants to recover from the blow they’ve been dealt by nature.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can help:
Buy their bananas
It may not seem like much, but with 47 million mouths to feed in Spain, buying bananas from La Palma can really make a difference.
The volcano has caused huge damage to banana plantations in La Palma – the second-largest producer in the Atlantic Canary Islands – where the crop accounts for 50 percent of the island’s economy, industry figures show.
If you’re in Spain, your local supermarket will probably have Canary bananas. Look out for those with a black sticker which reads “Plátano de Canarias” (Canary Banana) and a picture of La Palma’s active volcano with the words “del volcán” (of the volcano).
It’s part of the “One Banana for La Palma” campaign which aims to explain that any damage or ash found on the fruit is superficial and doesn’t affect the taste or quality of the product.
Make a donation
Spain’s Interior Ministry has pledged around €30,000 of public funding for every house destroyed by the volcano’s lava, but this won’t cover the cost of all the damage, especially since half of the homes that have been destroyed weren’t insured.
La Palma’s Cabildo government has set up a website in Spanish and English which explains the different ways to help those who’ve lost everything to the volcano.
“Now, the priority is to raise funds for specific demands, such as housing for those affected,” island authorities explain.
So you can help financially by making a donation either by Bizum or bank transfer, or if you’re in a position to do so, you can donate essential materials or donate wholesale goods. Here is the official website.
You can also donate clothes to palmeros via this organisation.
This is obviously a big ask for people who don’t live in the Canary Islands and may not be able to afford the time off, but there are hundreds of people from mainland Spain who have flown over to La Palma to work as volunteers with the Red Cross and other organisations for a week or longer.
It’s an opportunity to help in whatever way is needed, from cleaning up ash to distributing food to those who need it, all while being present at one of the most important events in modern Spanish history.
Visit La Palma and spend big
There has been plenty of controversy over whether it was right for volcano enthusiasts and other curious tourists to fly over to La Palma when the island was in the midst of its worst natural disaster in centuries and people were losing their homes.
However, with no end to the volcanic eruptions in sight, the vast majority of palmeros are pragmatic.
Selfie seekers and disaster tourists aside, tourist numbers are down enormously across the whole island – not just the areas affected by the lava and ash – and the general consensus is that the more money pumped into the local economy from outside the better.
So whether it’s sooner or later (keeping in mind that La Palma’s airport has had to close on several occasions due to low visibility), a visit to this beautiful island should be on your itinerary.
Buy La Palma products online
Did you know La Palma wines have a distinctive bouquet because of the islands’ volcanic land? Or that cheeses from the archipelago are among Spain’s finest? And have you ever tasted the delicious mojo sauces that’s great with potatoes or palm honey that pairs well with so many foods? You can buy some of these products here.
Whether it’s ordering La Palma food products online or other goods, here’s another way to help palmeros from a distance.
This island has plenty of creative minds, so if there’s any product whether food, clothing or anything else you want to get, it’s worth putting in a search and helping local businesses.