The whole world is now affected by coronavirus.
Physically, we need to stay separate and apart as never before in modern times. Mentally, however, the situation brings us together in a common effort to handle and control the contamination.
Here are 200 words from around the world.
We have received texts from the countries marked with red. Further testimonies will be added continuously.
There have been three waves. First came disappointment and anxiety as I have to cancel all my plans and projects for upcoming months. People in art understand what it is for someone to prepare, to think through and to anticipate a project read magic to happen. And suddenly, you have to postpone everything because something bigger and unknown is about to happen.
Then came fear. As I’ve got plenty of time and vivid curiosity I’ve started to read, I am very accurate with my sources, and it made things darker. Aggressive virus, no vaccine, overwhelmed health-care systems around the globe. I was thinking about my loved ones, grandmother, parents. This is a kind of anxiety that usually parents have for their kids: outside world is big and scary and a kid is too little or has no power to stand up for himself.
Thirdly, came acceptance and reflection. I cannot do much, I should just live it through. Wash hands, stay at home, read and write. There is something bigger than our plans and our expectations like global pandemic, but also like our human spirit, love we have for each other, care and protection we want to share with the most vulnerable, human connections that became more important than ever. It’s a time for reflection of what is normal and what is important for us like a coffee and ice cream with close ones in a crowded café in a beautiful day.
A poem for our times
We flit like shadows through empty streets
Lost souls condemned to wander;
Your face is lined in sheets of grey.
I quickly turn my gaze away, afraid to look
And see my sad indifference reflected in
The mirrored fear that fills this stranger’s eyes.
And still, the world spins on, trees grow,
Clouds form, and now the breeze
Brings mocking gusts to taunt my solitude
And carry with each lonely nudge my ghostly sound.
Empty echoes fill the air with silence.
Perhaps we were not ever really here.
My name is Joshua Pollock. I am a single forty-six-year-old man living in Portland, Oregon (USA). I had two jobs prior to the escalation of the Coronavirus. I worked at a consignment shop and teach history online for a community college. My boss temporarily closed down the consignment shop to keep everyone safe.
Most people I know are social distancing properly. But many friends are dealing with loneliness and depression. We Portlanders love cafes, bars, and nature excursions. Our lifestyle is put on hold and we feel it.Yet Portland does have many unhoused people. I live several blocks away from a street with several tents set up. This issue was critical before the pandemic. Current conditions makes it more so.
I’m luckier than many. So, I’m trying to keep positive. The uncertainty of everything is overwhelming. I miss seeing my twenty-one-year-old daughter, my cousins, and friends. My daughter lives in an apartment with her friend in St. Johns. We talk often on the phone and I send her money. She is struggling financially due to loss of income. Times are hard but there is hope. Like many in the world now, hope is all I can hold onto.
New York, USA
Christian Svanes Kolding
Every hour of every day is filled with the sound of ambulance sirens. Every time I step outside, I see things I don’t expect to see: an ambulance parked on a neighboring street, paramedics in hazmat gear attending to yet another patient on a stretcher; a truck outside a hospital that’s being loaded with bodies, which have been placed inside white industrial bags; empty shelves in a supermarket that never seems to be restocked; medical supplies we can’t get.
I’m from Denmark. I live in Brooklyn with my American wife. We’re healthy-ish. We’ve had some symptoms. “We’re both monitoring” is a common thing we say these days. Outside, I wear a strange juxtaposition of running clothes and protective gear that includes a homemade face mask and latex gloves but we stay mostly inside our apartment, where many hours of each day are spent managing clients on video calls. That too is a strange paradox. We try to stay focused.
At night, we lie in bed and listen to the sirens beyond our window. It is nonstop. There’s no other traffic, no other activity outside. Just the sirens, long into the evening. We’re not safe. No one is safe right now.
Sara Riis Hasselskog
I have possibly been infected with corona virus and voluntarily quarantined for the past three weeks. I’ve had an overwhelming shortness of breath that has been my constant companion during these weeks.
I am a single mother of a 3,5 year old girl. Her father lives abroad. Since I have been sick, my daughter has been at home with me. Preschools are still open in Sweden, but I don’t want to risk infecting others while dropping her off. Life of a single mother is never easy, but it’s been a real challenge entertaining a small healthy child while I myself have literally been gasping for breath for all this time.
We share our apartment with a friend and my flatmate is not infected so far and has provided me and my daughter with food and things we need from the outside world. We have had everything we could ever wish for.
The first week I didn’t work, because I was too sick and my daughter was sick too. But after that I have been working on my laptop when my daughter is sleeping. I am a journalist. I get up really early in the morning, three hours before my daughter awakes. And I work up to three hours after she goes to sleep in the night. It’s hard, but I am grateful of my situation anyway. I still feel a shortness of breath, but I am alive. I still have a job, and my daughter keeps me motivated. I can take care of my daughter during the days and provide for us by working when she sleeps.
For all of us, it will take grit and determination to get through this. When I am better I will help sick people and go buy food for them. Because I have already had corona and I’m not scared.
Few weeks ago I was planning how I am returning to work after having two kids. i was planning on working from home for a few years, blogging, being a freelancer. I was looking for opportunities. Asking around.
Now I am considering cancelling our vacations, plan nothing but the meals for the week and worrying about when I can see my 60+ parents and 80+ grandma again. My husband conveniently broke his ankle just before the virus spreaded in Hungary, so we are together at home for weeks now. No kindergarten for three weeks, so we are truly really all the time together, the four of us. We talk on the phone to the next door neighbor. We see the faces of each other only, fighting toddlers not wanting to sleep and trying to get everything on our table while between 9-12 i cannot go to pharmacies, drogeries or food shops as these times are reserves for 65+ years old people.
I feel like we just float in the void. Our lives on hold. Our relationships with others on hold. We worry about older family members, about our income. We cannot see the end of this. Uncertainty is the reality we live now in. We wish for harder measure to be taken by the government, hope for lockdown, and it does not come. The worst is not knowing how long this lasts. We are put on hold, literally.
The Corona virus emergence made me realise that I have never truly lived but rather rushed through my 45 years of existence. My life came to a standstill before most Namibians’ because my production inputs are predominantly imported from China, where business closed in December. I had to find local expensive substitutes, thus hurting my finances.
My family’s health could have been in danger too, because I recently had consecutive excursions with American based friends; been to various offices, malls, banks and hugged many friends, in addition to cash transactions with Portuguese and Chinese tenants occupying my Airbnb. I can’t remember having been careful at any of those points.
My kids’ NO school related anxieties added to my stress. While social media and international TV channels have made me a globetrotter, physically, I haven’t been outside our yard since the country’s lock-down. The only places I have been confined to are my kitchen-city, lounge-les, bedroom-ville, saint-bathroom and balcony-bay; staring without touching my nuclear family, and appreciating the spectacular landscape, clear sky and colourful birds and insects I never noticed existed. It had to take a virus for me to realise the things I truly need are here within my reach.
When COVID 19 became more heightened, I was on a trip. It was extremely scary travelling home through an airport and knowing that I was standing shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world in the customs area. I was very afraid that I had encountered the virus and brought it to my family. I self-quarantined before it became ‘the norm’ but I’m glad I did. That was 21 days ago, and I feel OK.
My biggest concern and fear is my mother’s health will fail during the quarantine. I’m worried that I won’t be able to hug her. I’m worried that if her health fails that she will die without the comfort of her family around her. My Mom has Alzheimer’s and she is filled with anxiety and fear.
My son has had a LOT of screen time and is doing a lot of video gaming. I’m worried that he will feel alone. I’m worried about how much screen time he is doing. I’m worried what isolation will do to him in the long run.
I try to distract myself with work, podcasts and tv. I try to avoid watching the news or TV because it just makes me more anxious. I try to have my family be my priority and focus on comfort and care.
I’m going to write a letter to my Mom and be sure to mail it today.
St. Louis, USA
The bad: I own a DJ/entertainment business called Porta Party DJs, and we currently have no income due to all weddings, corporate/private events being canceled and bars/nightclubs being shut down. Some events were rescheduled for later in 2020, but many were canceled. The MLB season has been postponed, so the St. Louis Cardinals have no home games until it resumes. That is a huge hit for me since I work 3 jobs (before, during and after) for every game. I hope and pray we are somewhat back to normal by July so I can start earning money again. Otherwise, I’m not sure what I’m going to do for income or work. I’m currently researching unemployment options and assistance from the US government stimulus package and hope that is enough to get us through this.
The good: my wife and 3 teenage kids (17, 16 and 14) and I have been able to spend a lot of time together and become closer as a family. We are trying to make the best of it by making family TikTok videos and doing projects around the house. They are managing doing their online schooling very well so far.
In Peru, as we understood the initial rising numbers of COVID-19 patients across the Atlantic, we hoped the initial epidemic wouldn’t be as severe, like when it happened with the H1N1 virus. Now it is clear for most of us that this pandemic cannot be confronted individually anymore. Our government is quickly learning and adjusting its actions to the changing crisis, taking in consideration not only public health but also economic and social measures. This is bringing hope for the current weeks but we are worried for the upcoming months.
As for myself, I came back to Peru after studying and working 20 years abroad, including Scandinavia. I currently work as a Public Health Manager for one of the main country hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients. Our hospital is constantly under restructuring as hospitalization beds needs are increasing and healthcare professionals are dropping off for being on risk groups. People feel very sensible in the middle of this crisis but at the same time feel closer and empowered as a team. It is sometimes difficult keeping up the energy on long shifts and then being specially careful at home in order to avoid cross-contamination. It is specially tough not being able to hug and being close to my parents when I am back from service shifts.
My kitchen is now my office and my living room sofa is my studio. Zoom is my new reality of face-to-face interviews. The radio keeps airing, but at times, the lack of direct human contact can be painfully audible. This crisis has fast-forwarded our use of technologies to mitigate the change in sound. We have asked people to record their own audio diaries to document their life in self-isolation, and sometimes they turn out to be surprisingly emotional. It seems that people are particularly drawn to these human-interest stories as they look for ways to share their overwhelming emotions.
Last night, I went for a walk in a nearby forest and noticed how people tried to avoid each other on the trails. I came home and realized that the digital world suddenly makes me feel safer than the world outside. I poured myself a glass of red wine and dived into the comfort of a Zoom concert, where my first-grader nieces performed on piano and violin in their rooms, all dressed up and excited. In a world of technology that tends to divide us, I am curious to see how it can bring us together in a time of crisis.
I am lucky. Before the lock down (decided on March 7), I left my hometown, Brescia (Lombardy, Italy), for a little village in the mountains. During the month I have spent here, my hometown became the epicenter of the epidemic. Here I don’t hear the ambulances and the bells ringing for the dead. Here time is suspended. There is full of snow and it is so quiet. I still receive the phone calls though, like this morning, announcing the dead of my friend’s father.
Even though I know I am lucky, all this is hard. We are in the 5th week of confinement and schools are closed. That means I have to do all the things that I normally don’t: cook 3 times a day and homeschool my kids. And if I don’t it’s because I hate this. I am also supposed to work which is really hard and it’s frustrating not to be able to do my job correctly (I am an academic). I have very few moments for myself, if none. The harder thing it’s not knowing when all this is going to end. Is my University going to reopen? And my kid’s schools? When will I be able to leave? (the last decree forbid people to leave the municipality where they are). My husband is in Brescia and I don’t know when we are going to be reunite. As time goes by, the end of containment seems to be slipping away.
I sit more by the window than I used to do. Now I start in the morning with a coffee by hand. Not that there is much to look at. There is not a single parking place left and no cars except a few vans come trough the street. My wife and I hardly go out except for a ride outside town to nature, that seems completely untouched by the situation. We are old people and can deal with being locked up alone.We have worked together for 55 years and it takes more than this to make us explode...
We have daily routines like playing Rummy at 2 o´clock and at 4 I read a chapter from a book. At the moment Elliot Pauls ’ My Paris’. We had long ago ordered a trip to Paris in the midlle of april. Now we are waiting for the money to be payed back...Sometimes when the sun is shining, we sit by the open window and pretend we are at the beach. We keep in touch with family and friends, we eat and drink well and we will go to Paris...
Hi, this is Katharina Schwarzer, a self-employed 52-year-old woman from Vienna, Austria “locked” with my husband and the youngest of my four kids.
As we were asked to stay at home, we prepared a bit. I took care that all my children are safe and could stay healthy, especially mentally. Two of them have jobs “outside” (one at a primary school, the other at a post office), so they are still contacting others, one lives with us, but the girl, an artist, is living alone. So as others were busy buying toilet paper, we went out for shopping a huge amount of arts and crafts materials.Good idea, as it turned out – it is nearly 3 weeks now, and no sign that this will come to an end.
My household is happy: our IT skills are needed, we can work from home as well as our office next door, my teenage son stays in his room, on his computer, leaving it for meals.
But: around us, I see many people suffering a lot from this situation. In Austria, at the moment law is made for “standard people”, seen from a conservative view. So all fine, if you are a couple with father in home-office, mother taking care of two kids, who follow lessons on their tablets. If not? No one cares. I’m scared.
Modica, Sicily, Italy
Some days we are sad, even desperate, other days we are calm. We have relatives that are ill with coronavirus, and we cannot go and see them. We see no one but the masked clerks at the grocery store once a week, before we scurry back home. Even then, we can only go out one at a time.
Our garden is our solace that soothes us while our beloved wounded country struggles to survive. We’ve been home for 23 days now, and watch nature thrive in spite of our sadness and worries. The air is fragrant with lemon blossoms, new fuzzy almonds appear on a tree, a joyous carpet of bright wildflowers is underfoot. We eat fresh artichokes and juicy oranges; a farmer leaves us 4 eggs in our mailbox. We pick fresh flowers to adorn our lunch table and they bring us joy as we eat. We are two people, we are safe, we know we are the lucky ones.
Someday we will emerge into a world that will not be the same as the one we left. We hope it will be a better one, but we are unsure. We hope and wait, and wait some more.
New York, USA
They say you must journal during this time. They say you must keep a record because placing yourself inside of history is important. They say writing will give you some form of clarity. But each word, each sentence, each simile is making me angry. I’m angry at our politicians, our failed health care system, and our selfishness.
I’m angry at us.
I’m angry at myself for not doing more.
We are in a period of mass undoing. This pandemic is stripping away all the surface, and it’s leaving us undone. It’s leaving us naked, down to our last skin.
This pandemic has put a dent in our trust of the future, and many of us are in a hurry to forget its existence. But if we let it slip from our memory, we will neglect the lessons this global epidemic is teaching us as individuals, and as citizens. So far, I have learned that my community is everything, and I have to continuously add my love, my wisdom, my support, and my common sense to its resource bank. I have also learned that I cannot be docile in the political process.
This is not the new normal. This is the normal created by poor leadership, lack of public health care, lack of education, and profit before people. We should not use these words to inadvertently benefit a flawed and an unjust system. During wartime, life goes on.
This idea is deafening to our consciousness. But yes, during wartime, life goes on. The people work, cry at the demise of their land, and cry at other things, they laugh, they breathe, they expand, and they live for another day. It’s not the new normal, they have just adjusted because humans adjust. We then make it standardized, and then we adjust again.
Wellington, New Zealand
At the beginning of March, few Kiwis could envision that in less than a month, their country would so drastically change. Athough the virus had hit other parts of the globe hard - life was fairly normal here. There was a naivete from some folk that somehow Covid-19 wouldn’t impact us.
After years of saving, my partner and I were fortunate enough to buy a house to start our family in. The move in date was set for 17 April.
Skip to early April and we live in a new reality. We are a week into a month-long lockdown. Our government has shown strong leadership but the economic costs are nonetheless devastating. NZ’s biggest industry, tourism, has essentially disappeared. Many Kiwis have lost their jobs. Businesses and media are failing. My partner and I are working remotely and thankfully our jobs are safe. We stay with friends and don’t know when we can move into our house. We are lucky. So far, NZ has around 700 cases and one death. I feel for everyone impacted but particularly medical workers and at-risk communities. We all wonder what the future holds but nobody has any idea what the post-Covid world will look like.
We are approaching fourth week since the deadly coronavirus threw my life into disarray. what has changed since then is a question which eventually haunts, I am cautious but equally afraid too to go out: to meet friends, to visit hospitals to meet frontline warriors, to restaurants and shopping places and withdraw money from ATM’s.
All concerts, sporting events, major conferences stand cancelled and conventions for every industry which i can think of.
I have now more become a homebody. My only routine is to read books most of the time and keep surfing Twitter and Facebook to know the latest covid-19 global updates.
Life has become a bit boring and spontaneity has gone out of my life.I plan every move carefully not at the cost of life.i am not fine with it but when you are faced with a global pandemic, compromise is the last option with you.
I do write some freelance pieces because my profession demands it. I don’t know if I am unlucky to miss a $5000 Documentary project which demands to shoot inside quarantine units and talk to Doctors while they are working. i have regrets but given the outdated health sector we have to handle covid-19 patients, i have to take every possible step to protect myself.
Afraid of the situation prevailing globally, the preferential discussion of the family where all other programmes including attempts to look for a girl to whom I should marry and renovate existing house is let all take precautions and follow guidelines to survive through covid-19 crises.
I’m an actor in London. Until three weeks ago, I was performing in a new translation by Tony Kushner of
Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, starring Lesley Manville at the National theatre. I also played in Kushner’s Angels in America, about the outbreak of the Aids virus in the early nineties. The National theatre is now closed. I have since work shopped a new play, After Life on Zoom for the National, although we don’t know when the theatre will re-open.
I’m divorced and FaceTime my daughter and ex-wife, who are in the states. My close friends and relatives speak by phone. Since I am a senior citizen, I get preference at my local supermarket. I eat well and drink a glass or two of red wine with supper. My health is generally good. I have a very mild form of asthma, requiring the occasional use of an inhaler. I’m diligent about hand washing and using anti-bacterial sanitizers.
When I have been in a long run of a play, I usually set myself the task of reading books. Since this virus looks like the equivalent to a long run of a play, I have decided to re-read Proust. It is the most recent English translation, published by Penguin, and it is like visiting an old friend in whose company, I relish. It is dense and full of riches, and it is a slow read. I hope when I finish Proust’s In Search of Time Lost, we will be over the worst.
I don’t even know what day it is today.
We are 250 kilometres away from the nearest city in the middle of a national park, and we can still feel the impacts of this global affliction. There’s now tape on the floor in the supermarket, dictating how far apart you have to stand from other people. In the petrol station. In the post office.
The Crocodile Hotel is empty. The local swimming pool, the visitors’ centre. Even out here, in the middle of nowhere, in our little town of 1000 people, the world seems to have stopped.
My daughter calls to me from the dining table asking for more coloured paper to decorate another toilet roll monster, while my son tugs on the leg of my pyjama pants as I try to prepare some breakfast for the three of us. I hope they don’t get too bored of each other today.
I wonder what kind of a day my husband is having at work.
It’s a beautiful day outside.
I can’t write. The imaginative part of my brain is shut down and all activity concentrates on practical tasks. It’s a kind of standby function of creativity; survival instinct can concentrate on necessary work.
Today a carrier comes with a blueprint of my new novel ’The Last Humanist’. I wouldn’t be able to write it now. My brain is paralyzed and dangles like a soft bullet in Faraday’s cage. Surrounded by a vibrant field of tension - a closed grid woven of media stories about casualties, privations, dyspnoea, chaos, military trucks, skating rinks, refrigerated containers, fears and lonely death.
When the screen goes off and I go on to feed the sheep, chickens, ducks, goats, geese end whatever needs to be fed at the farm, the voltage drops. Sunshine makes my frontal lobes unfold from fetal position and the down-to-earth work seems the only way forward. In a little while a carrier will come with the novel in print. The story is pure fiction, but during the years I’ve written on the manuscript reality has overtaken inside the crawler lane. The novel is about humanity and a pandemic. I wouldn’t be able to write it now.
My corona-life? On hold. Chaotic. Family-oriented. Hopeful.
Before I was often on the road. My last work trip to US was in the beginning of march. The virus still seemed abstract at that point. Even so close to the breakdown nobody could image its scope.
As a freelance film journalist, I am used to working remotely. Writing on an airplane, café, park bench. But a three-year-old jumping on you makes it more challenging, no doubt.
My outlets have limited external commissions, but I still work – a privilege. My fiancée’s work is intact. The budget’s tighter, but we’re managing. Although some expenses are hard to accept - like paying for a closed kindergarten. The government’s propositions are populist and won’t help much.
After the lockdown, we moved to my parents. We stacked on provisions, try to stay in. Sharing duties, keeping each other company, trying not to kill each other. We read the news, talk, but try not to panic. A garden and nearby forest are soothing to a psyche so suddenly entrapped. I think about the world after, how different it will be, because it will. I just want us all to be there to witness it.
On 23th of March Greek government declared a strict restriction on movement for the whole of the country, allowing people only to leave the house for going to work and do necessary shopping trips.
Due to harsher restrictions of movement in Greece and the fear of catching the virus people are trapped intubier squads.
NNK visits six spots on a regular bases.
Big factory: 150 (usually 100-130)
Small factory: 50 (30-40)
Port factory: 11 (8)
Port squad: 7 (new)
At the moment the team of No Name kitchen in Patras consist of one member who will stay until the beginning of June. Currently it is not recommended for Other volunteers to join the operation since they would have to put themself in quarantine for two weeks and an after the risk of getting infected by SARS-CoV-2 and bringing the virus into the squads rise with every number of people working on the ground.
While being in the squads high cautions of corona preventions are in place, wearing masks and gloves all the time changing them regularly, also when changing the spot. Keeping distance of two meters to everyone else is standard, just as the prevention of touching ones face.
Next to the regular distribution of food and NFI and the report of police violence, the education of corona prevention, on basis of who guidelines is done in the squads. At the same time the number of distributed soap units has been increased starting with 233 units in the time between the 16.03 – 22.03, 460 units between the 23.03 – 29.03 and keeping these numbers up.
On the 2nd of April the corona task force was founded consisting of different former volunteers or volunteers still on the ground in the operations of nnk with different work background from medical to organizational and langue based skills.
Goal of this task force is to center the knowledge on how to deal with this crisis for people on the ground, volunteers and people in the squads.
In this time of crisis the local partner KINISIS is more than a Great help. The leaders of KINISIS help distribute food to the big factory, enable the volunteer to contact a doctor in any case of questions and organizes the support of the local community of Patras.