The coronavirus lockdown, which began on March 24 in Colombia, brought their jobs to a dramatic halt as the government prohibited people from being on the streets to curb the spread of the virus, which has so far infected more than 5,000 people and killed at least 233.
The red rag phenomenon began a few weeks ago when the mayor of Soacha, a Municipalities of Colombia, Jose Carlos Saldarriaga came up with the red cloth initiative. "The piece of red cloth is one of many dotting the buildings of Bogota's working-class neighbourhoods - a symbol of someone in need," Steven Grattan, a freelance journalist from Northern Ireland who has been based in Bogota, Colombia wrote in an article published on Al Jazeera.
"The red cloth is to show neighbours how one another is living, something that usually doesn't happen. It allows a type of solidarity and support from their neighbours while facing the hunger they're going through at the moment," said Saldarriaga. He posted the idea on social media, "Those in need started to place red cloth outside their front doors, and the phenomenon spread to other parts of Bogota before gaining traction nationwide."
Saldarriaga said there are entire neighbourhoods in Soacha that have red rags on display. People are not just in need of food and other supplies, Al Jazeera reported.
"A black cloth means that some kind of violence is being suffered in the home, blue is when medical help is needed and red is when they need food," said John Orlando, Colombia Director for Action Against Hunger. "The needs are going to continue and most certainly increase in the coming weeks and months," he added.
The Colombian government said that from April 7 onward, it would begin delivering subsidies of 160,000 Colombian Pesos ($40) on average per household, for three million families who are in situations of "poverty, extreme poverty and vulnerability". Earlier, Colombia's presidency said in a press release that it will have given out one million cash transfers to vulnerable families as of next week.
While many have displayed red outside the windows, some say they have still not received any aid.