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by Cassandra Lamberti
Cover photo by Viktoiya Gorbach

With the progressive rise of COVID-19, the entire world is facing a substantial amount of uncertainty, with modifications occurring daily in each country. People in the Schengen Area, Asia, Africa and the USA are all amongst those that are highly affected by this outbreak. While in some spheres of the world the curve is being flattened, in others it has yet to hit its peak.

Most will see this period as a unique moment in history, a moment when everyone was in sync and patiently waiting for this ghastly virus to come to a halt, a time when, for a brief moment, everyone on this earth was made equal. However, for a unique circumstance such as this, justly rare and creative responses are required. 

Being quarantined for more than a month can feel as though you are being handed a mirror and all you can do now is reflect. Going so far as to put multiple countries on lockdown provides that we can extract a larger lesson from this experience. Many individuals are using this period to reminisce about how they spent their time before and compartmentalise what really matters. Mateja Kert from Berlin has shared the following:

“I took a step out on the balcony during work. The office is on the 5th floor and you have a marvellous view of the Friedrichstadt-Palast, Berlin’s famed revue theatre. I caught two Post women sitting down and chatting on the empty space in front of the theatre’s box office. If it wasn’t for the current circumstances, this very pretty scene would have been drowned in the city’s constant busy buzz. I was internally rejoicing at the sense of peace emanating from these women.”

Mateja Kert, Berlin, Germany

Finding moments like this during the day is of paramount importance, more so now than ever before. “The little things” that many of us are now guilty of taking advantage of have the upmost beauty. There is an abundance of time during which many individuals are learning new skills, finding new hobbies, reconnecting with old friends and family. Taking on anything that will soften the stress or anxiety that comes from this new normal, and the uncertain future. In Beirut, Lebanon, Faten Anbar discloses what is the current climate in the Shatila refugee camp:

The coronavirus outbreak in Shatila refugee camp had profound negative repercussions on the personal life of Palestinians. There are groups of people whose lives have changed dramatically, for others it has changed somewhat, and yet some of have said that they have not had changes in their lives.

A large group of people expressed their concern about attending parties; others prefer not to eat out. The habits have changed. All workers stopped working, adhering to domestic quarantine, and some who used to go to places of worship have now stopped. A message with instructions was delivered by the United Nations Relief Agency for Palestine and Syrian Refugees:

‘Washing hands, coughing etiquette, the importance of moving away from others and reporting cases, and awareness raising is carried out in various ways – through short videos or phone messages or through communication at health centres.’ A curfew has been imposed in the camp and it is sterilised on a daily basis with the hope of stopping the scourge, and for the safety of everyone in all parts of the world.

Faten Anbar, Shatila camp, Beirut, Lebanon

This global health crisis is unlike any other health complication. It is not only taking away the lives of thousands but also causing major distress to societies. Economies are down while unemployment continues to climb. Health care professionals are risking their lives daily to protect those infected. Along with protecting everyone from the virus, many health services and volunteers are using their time and knowledge to help people cope with the current reality and keep their mental wellness in a positive state.

Humans are not the only living substance that COVID-19 is drastically affecting. According to Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Inger Andersen, “Nature is sending us a message”. Combining COVID-19 and climate change, the planet is due for some revisions. Eva Rico Narvàez from Torrox, Spain, described her feelings on this time as so:

“In these confined times, we see the life through windows and half-open doors.
To go out becomes in a brief moment provided with the new basic clothing, masks and gloves.
In these confined times, the nature takes a seat under the warm spring sun.
Rest, contemplate and breathe.”

Eva Rico Narvàez. Torrox, Spain

It can be easy to disremember that life becomes rushed. As humans, we are conditioned to believe that it is normal to be wrapped up in oneself without thinking twice about what could be happening somewhere else or to someone else. This pandemic has shown that whatever your location, it is not possible to turn a blind eye to the society that we have created.

Today, make the conscious choice to think about the worlds tomorrow. Instead of panicking, plan. Instead of burning with hate, love. Choose to forgive, and let go of resentment. This period is not something anyone was well prepared for or could have predicted. When the contemporary normal is over, do not forget the strength it took to abide by the laws and stay inside to protect those around you. The world will soon return in a greater state, and it will be our role to build it back stronger.