Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lithuanian government has imposed quarantine - and people in the capital Vilnius reacted with solidarity and speed. In the first week of quarantine thousands of volunteers offered their help, entrepreneurs have raised large sums for medical equipment using just online messaging, and telecommunications companies provided resources to coordinate the joint effort. The ongoing efforts of Vilnius municipality to build a tech-savvy and focused community of citizens also proved to be crucial in the face of crisis.
The force that is uniting the biggest numbers of volunteers is the municipality-inspired group Gedimino Legionas (Gediminas Legion) that is raising and coordinating initiatives of direct support. The name of the group refers to Gediminas, who was one of the most important rulers of Lithuania, the founder of Vilnius in the 14th century and the symbol of its historical strength. Gedimino Legionas was born last year, as an initiative to resist a potential hybrid war by “hunting down” fake news, applying one’s IT or language skills or any other personal abilities. While last year’s events were just a test, this time, in the face of the pandemic, the Legion is actually using everything it was built to do. Volunteers are joining into groups and are taking up any tasks that they can - such as taking care of senior citizens by helping them with shopping for food and medicine. Seniors are informed about the need to stay at home through different communication channels: posters, flyers and even drones.
All the initiatives of the Vilnius business community are impossible to list. New ideas are brought forward every day. The city demonstrates the same resistance to crisis that it has proved repeatedly throughout its history, and shows the world what a strong community can do in the face of crisis.“I am very proud to see my city showing such unity and solidarity. I think it really shows the spirit of Vilnius,” said Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of Vilnius. “We are the city of personalities. But in times of crisis we come together and support each other. That’s when we show our real force.” www.govilnius.lt