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Pandemic perspectives final part: Views from around the world

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HCMC – The world is under varying degrees of lockdown owing to the threat posed by Covid-19. The pandemic is currently spreading across the planet, with some countries having been given early exposure and others in the early hours of the situation.

My counterpart at the Manila Times, Ariel Ian Clarito, and I have reached out to various connections around the world to understand how they’ve been affected. Clarito first compiled some of these in an online form dubbed Tales of Lockdown (TOLD) and some of those quoted have been added to this multi-part series. This is the final installment of replies we received from more than a dozen countries across the globe.

The articulate, thoughtful replies that have been shared so far have been thoroughly gratifying and uplifting, in spite of the turmoil we’re all dealing with right now.

Ola Dabrowska – Bangalore, India:

I do believe that my soul and my heart are very much Asian. I lived and worked in Chongqing, China before. Then I came to Bangalore from Poland two years ago. I work here in our Indian branch as a project manager or as our “European extended hand “.

Things in Bangalore are okay. The Covid-19 numbers are growing each day but these are still comparatively low. People avoid going out. There is less crowd in the streets. I moved in to a spacious apartment two and a half weeks before the pandemic blew up. I think compared to many others, I’m still in a very comfortable position.

India for sure isn’t the safest place during the pandemic but I know that you cannot feel very safe in Poland either, or anywhere else in the world. Mentally, the biggest challenge for me is that I know I cannot go back home even if I wanted to or even if I had to. I do not know when it will be allowed again and when the country’s borders will reopen.

It is tough being in a spot where I have no control, I am lacking in essential information, and I know that nobody else in the world knows more than I do. But I do see how people have been caring for each other more and community ties have gotten stronger. That is all we can do now for now: support each other.

We can only stay positive and hope for the best. It is easier for me to say that as in general, I am an optimist and I have a lot of faith in the future. I know somehow we will overcome this.

Juan Carlos Noria – Benicassim, Spain:

We are a family of three, with a small dog and two cats. Our biggest adjustment has been living confined in our small home. Fortunately, our patio offers us the opportunity to be outside and to feel like we can “get away.” As of the 26th of April, children under 13 accompanied by a parent are allowed to leave the home within a kilometer radius of their dueling, for an hour. This breaks the 43-day confinement. We love being home so it’s not a huge sacrifice.

There is an effort to be productive through the pandemic. I work from home {visual artist} so the studio is very active, especially because I’m preparing for a postponed show in Canada. Our daughter is 12 and has been home schooling since the lockdown. Her studies set the rhythm for each day. My partner, Carolina, and I take turns helping her with her studies. We both cook and bake so the kitchen is always active. Boardgames also keep us enthused. Not to mention housekeeping.

Our family isn’t approaching the pandemic with fear of infection. We watch a half hour of national news updates, to keep up with the latest government actions. Our efforts to keep the constant feed of fear news out are proving to be important.

The difficulty we face is financial. I’m not selling art and can’t leave the house to work. Carolina is also not working. Money that was owed to us came in just in time to help us pay rent and amenities and, Carolina’s dad is helping us with his savings. Next month, we’ll be receiving a government subsidy not linked to the pandemic. It will cover our rent. As long as we are together, healthy and productive, we feel hope. More than hope, we need a little luck to meet our financial targets.

Casey Collins – London, United Kingdom:

(Our challenge is) juggling home schooling with work. This means more family time and being even more creative with the kids; making games and crafts and baking more etc. Schools won’t open back up again until September! What’s giving me hope is that the good times will come again and hoping that our holiday booked for August will still go ahead.

Vaughan Swart – Amman, Jordan:

The biggest adjustment for our family has been the full lockdown orders from the Government. In response to Covid-19, the Jordanian Government has closed all non-essential businesses, but also forced people to stay in their homes and prohibited driving.

On the weekends, we are not allowed to leave our homes at all and if we do, we face fines or jail. We have struggled to be more productive during this time. Teaching online is more taxing than we had anticipated and has led us to not being overly productive outside of work.

When given time by the Government, our best time is taking our dogs for walks on the empty streets of the city. We have taken up urban hiking.

Our biggest fear is not being able to go home. The airports in Jordan have been closed since March 18 to all passenger traffic. The messages from the Government have suggested it will be closed until the end of May, but we think it will be longer.

Teaching abroad is a great experience, but going home, especially during this time, would be much needed. The biggest hope I have is that we (humanity) changes our ways, that there will be a new normal. We’ve been so destructive to world and I think it’s sending us a message. Unfortunately, I’m not sure we’re going to listen.

By Harry Hodge and Ariel Ian Clarito

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