The streets of Brussels are mostly quiet as people stay home to guard against the new coronavirus. But one bus traveling through the Belgian capital can be heard loud and clear. It is bringing messages of love and hope to people across the city.
The bright red bus is called the Voices of Brussels. But some have named it the “love bus.”
Since the middle of April, the city’s public bus company has been calling on people to send in voice messages. It also wants to know where they live. The special bus then travels to those street addresses before sunset to deliver the voice messages through a loudspeaker.
“We miss you a lot. Big kisses,” was recently heard coming from the Voices of Brussels as it rolled down one city street. “We are sending you a big kiss,” said another personal message as the bus continued through another neighborhood.
A few people hearing the messages from inside their homes looked surprised, while some quickly closed curtains over their windows. But most of the time, people reacted with big, happy smiles.
“It gives me pleasure,” Asuncion Mendez told The Associated Press. The bus brought the 82-year-old a message from her great-grandchildren. She said it brightened her day and helped ease her worries about the coronavirus.
Mendez’s daughter, Carmen Diaz, watched and listened with her mother from an open window one floor above street level. “It was a beautiful surprise. It warms the heart and makes people come together despite the lockdown,” Diaz said.
Like many city bus systems, the one in Brussels has been criticized by some riders. They say the buses are too late, too full or sometimes both. But in the current times, it is hard to criticize a bus carrying messages of love.
In fact, a spokeswoman for the bus company said the Voices of Brussels program has been flooded with requests. More than 750 messages have included everything from the blowing of kisses to a request by a child for someone to become her godmother.
Lorena Sanchez, the daughter of Diaz and granddaughter of Mendez, says she thinks the bus is a great idea. “It can really have an impact on a lot of people, especially the older ones who do not have access to technology,” Sanchez said. “It brings something very special.”
The program is even leaving a smile on the face of the bus drivers, who are sometimes the target of abuse by riders. “They are very happy that we thought of them,” said driver Alex Vandecasteele. “They are suddenly surprised, by people - their family or friends - who have thought of them.”
I’m Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
deliver – v. to take goods from one place to another
kiss – n. a touch of the lips as a sign of love or greeting
lockdown – n. completely closing down a place
impact – n. the strong effect or influence something has on a person or situation
access – n. to be able to find or get