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.
Mikkel Emil Bolding Andersen
Denmark imposed the lockdown on March 11. Since then, all ninth-graders have had to stay home. Now five and a half weeks have gone by. Denmark is slowly opening back up. First to fifth grade pupils have been allowed back to school, of course with certain restrictions. Ninth graders like me are still not back at school. We will miss out on our examinations, our last-day celebrations or any proper conclusion to our public school days. We are just sitting at home, doing homework and assignments given to us by our teachers. For each passing day, I am losing my motivation to do some proper work. It is as if nothing matters anymore. Every day is spent doing the same things: I do my homework; afterwards, I play video games or watch Netflix. On rare occasions, I might go out and play some soccer. I’m not scared. I just feel bored and I miss my ordinary everyday life. I don’t really follow the news anymore. The only time I can be bothered to turn it on is when our Prime Minister is having a press conference. The only positive thing is that there is a chance that we might go back to school soon.
Is it Wednesday or Thursday? Week 16 or 17? I have lost track of time. All the days look alike. Some days I don’t even get out of bed. Nothing motivates me anymore. In the beginning, staying at home seemed pretty cool. You could use FaceTime and stuff like that and had a lot of options. But this was supposed to be a temporary thing. My patience is about to run out, and the last couple of weeks have been a drag. Right now, they’d be telling us which subject we were supposed to prepare for our examinations, and we would have been studying. We have already been through all the compulsory readings, so now we just have to do whatever comes to our teachers’ mind. I am incredibly bored, also when they come to visit each of us at home while keeping the distance. We had already started planning what to do for our much-awaited last day of school, a celebration that everyone looks forward to from the very first time they witness it. All of it has now been cancelled because of the coronavirus. It’s all pretty rough and it is especially hard not seeing my friends, let alone my family.
I am a Dane who is currently living abroad, having moved from the Philippines to Georgia in August 2018. During the covid-19 pandemic, Georgia was shut down – for the most part. It’s not possible for me to go home to Denmark. The airport is closed down. I’ve been sent home from my job. And now I’m doing remote classes online. There is a mandatory mask order that leads to large fines if you fail to comply. Cars have been banned to reduce the spread, so people use horses or donkeys to get around town. Only supermarkets and pharmacies are open. The shelves are pretty well stocked, and rationing has been imposed. You have to show ID and residence documentation in case you’re stopped – there are a few soldiers manning checkpoints in the street. It all feels unsafe. The state of emergency was declared on March 14 and has now been extended to 22 May. I hope I’ll be able to get home to Denmark for Christmas. I’m happy to be living with my German boyfriend. Suddenly you’re far away from home when the world shuts down. Everything changes and you have to find the information in a foreign language.
I would rather prefer to hear that our country was mentioned in the foreign mass media in another context. But unfortunately, our Government does not leave even slim chances of that. The leader’s behaviour shows the full range of incompetence in questions of health security and medicine. In addition, the government authorities demonstrate total ignorance of growing society tension. As the mother of two I`m actually feeling insecure now. My children are staying at home and studying under my supervision although schools are not closed. Only 10-15 % of children attend schools and kindergartens. Some teachers (especially at the age of 50+) have decided to take unpaid vacation as quarantine measures have not been taken although the majority of children is staying at home. Parents are afraid of spreading and getting infection in these circumstances. Most of people are increasingly frustrated about their future wellbeing and feel that their voices are not being heard.
São Paulo, Brazil
Jady G. Sampaio Araujo
People are mostly following social distancing here. Our president said corona was just a ’little flu’ and wants people back at work, but thankfully the government of my state has been very strict with quarantine measures. I am working from home, quite busy actually. Trying to eat healthily and stay sane. I hear a lot of ambulances now - this is a quiet neighborhood, but I hear the sirens more often lately. Can’t help but think who’s in them... One of my relatives got the virus but recovered from it. We were all very worried. I’m a little nervous about all the uncertainty - I had an exchange coming up next semester, now I don’t even know if my university will reopen this year. I know a lot of people are losing their jobs. But I’m trying to focus on what I can control. Gardening and sunbathing in the yard have been some of the few respites in these times.
I started the quarantine like a robot, with no feelings. While I was restocking the pantry, the government declared quarantine at first, national curfew a few days later. Finally, there were important mobility restrictions imposed at the end of the week.
A few days later I got sick, which lasted almost three weeks. The doctor said it was laryngitis, but it felt worse than that. Feeling my physical body, I was finally able to connect with my emotions. I was not a robot anymore. I felt distressed, overwhelmed and powerless. There are so many people in need, but so little I can do.
How do I reconnect with the outside world? How do I wash out the feeling of guilt for all the basic things I have at home?. How do I battle the sensation of powerlessness?. What can I do to support the community? How to remain sane ….
A friend told me that pain doesn’t really leave room for being compared. We all have experiences, we all have a voice. So, as a storyteller, writing, listening and reading stories was what really warmed up my spirit. This is how I tried to keep inspired for tomorrow, when we will gather together again to share these stories. This is what reassures me now.
I am a single mother of a four months old baby girl. I live in a shared room, and I am worried and scared. I am responsible for a child and I risk infecting her, if I get the virus. What can I do now? I can’t provide for myself, I can no longer buy diapers for my daughter, and we are not allowed to go anywhere. Every time I go out to look for help, the authorities stop me and tell me to go home. I don’t know if I am going to overcome this crisis, and if I am going to survive.
I live in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Casablanca. I am 20 years old and I worked as a cleaning lady in a café. Now I have lost my job because of the lockdown. Since the first COVID-19 cases were detected in Morocco, the government has taken drastic measures to tackle the pandemic at early stage. School are closed, restaurants, cafes, and other gathering spaces are closed, international and national flights are suspended, highways are closed, and interprovincial public transportation suspended.
Those measures are particularly harsh on vulnerable people and informal workers like me, who lose every possibility of making an income.
My name is Taja, and I live in a small village Landol near Postojna, Slovenia. Before the virus came to my country I was a normal teenage girl who went to school, hung out with my closest friends, visited grandparents and relatives, and took singing lessons. Now that the virus had evolved in Slovenia and the schools had closed , I can’t even visit my relatives and it’s making me really sad L. Now we are homeschooled and I really don’t know what to think about it. I like it because I can spend more time with my family and I can exercise more and take care of my body. However, I don’t like it because I am afraid that anyone I really love and care about will get the virus, get ill or even die. But on the other hand I miss my friends, relatives, and even teachers too, which I thought I never would. I often watch the news local or worldwide and I really hope that doctors (who work really hard of course) will find the medicine to stop the coronavirus. I hope that the future we will be more careful about things like coronavirus or any other disease. The virus is a new experience we are trying to handle. Sometimes, when I am sad I think: it could be even worse, I can go out for a walk or cycle not every person can. I have read the book by Anne Frank story and it touched me. In a way I can compare to Anne Frank, she had the worst scenario that could have happened. I am alive, healthy and that is all I wish for now.
Reality Bites. If you had said to me at Christmas, that by March you would be self isolating with your family for the majority of 2020 (maybe even longer), I would have laughed in your face.
Not only self isolating, but protecting yourself , and those you care about from this deadly virus going around. It all seems very similar to the storyline of the purge. These times we live in, certainly are not normal – nor should they be treated normally. Nobody’s life is the same these days. Everyone has started treating their life differently. Maybe, everyone will start to appreciate this extraordinary opportunity we are lucky to have more. That opportunity of course, being to live a life as you want to.
Maybe it was a virus like this, that we needed. Day by day I, personally, am looking more towards the day that this isolation ends. By then it is important for myself and everyone to have achieved different things of significance, because what a waste of valuable time if we have not! It is important to make each day different in some way, whilst at the same time sticking to the same routine. Certainly there should be something to look forward to everyday, even when reality bites. Its not as if time has just paused this year. This year will be just as significant as the rest when you think back on all those years on your death bed. So make it significant. Make it a year to remember. Make it the year you become a better person who has eveloped old and new skills and talents. It will make it all worth it when that day comes. That day, of course, being when freedom is regranted to everyone.
Randi Haakan Jensen
Just before the lockdown began, we “escaped” the city and went to our beach apartment in the same region. The thought of being trapped in an apartment with two boys (7 and 4), made me panic. Also, the big city seemed more dangerous; the more people, the more risk. We’re on the 5th week of working from home both of us with the kids at home. The school sends homework but it’s difficult to get them to do it, mostly because we don’t have time to do it with them. They invent new games in new corners of the house or garden each day but there are some difficult hours each day where they are bored and we have to work. The feeling of not doing enough at work nor for the kids is very hard. Going shopping creates anxiety. I was on the verge of crying the first time I put on a mask to enter the pharmacy. We do the grocery shopping for, at least, one week at a time. Yoga and Martini is what gets me through this. We know that we’re going to be here at least 2 more weeks and likely more. And then what…
Brooklyn, New York
Brian J. Kerrigan
I awake and weep
For the city that does me keep.
That screech, it haunts my every day.
I pray I pray it goes away.
I awake and weep
My city’s heroes need their sleep.
That blare, it hurts my heavy heart.
I wish I wish it would not start.
I awake and weep
The city’s curve it is too steep.
That squeal, it shivers down my spine.
I hope I hope it rests its whine.
So clap New Yorkers far and wide
We have the world right by our side.
And pray and wish and hope we’ll keep,
That we no more, awake and weep.
Ascencion de Guarayos, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Cirila Tapendaba Urapiri
My name is Cirila, and I am from the Gwarayu indigenous people. This pandemic impacts my family. My children haven’t been to school since March 20th , when quarantine rules came into force. For small municipalities like mine – and others where indigenous people live – online education doesn’t work. Only very few of us can even buy a computer, and internet connections is expensive, or there is no internet signal at all.
The economic impact is severe in my family, too. If I do not work, I do not eat. Most Gwarayo people are artisans or labourers, and this is one of our major concerns right now.
As the leader of an indigenous organization, I have several limitations in order to coordinate with national and international organizations that we used to contact and ask for aid. Now also they are impacted.
We still don’t have confirmed Covid-19 cases in my minicipality, but we are in huge risk, because the main city is six hours away, and health service has several limitations. Some measures have been taken in order to prevent an outbreak of the virus, for example to divert the main highway. Trucks are not allowed to pass through the municipality, delivering vital news and information on COVID-19 in Gwarayu language and call people to stay at home, to stay in their communities.
The feeling of knowing that something really bad is going to hit your country seems like a bitter déjà vu. The feeling of knowing that the government isn’t going to take the right measures to deal with this invisible enemy is even worse when you live in a relatively healthy country with a sadist president.
Covid-19 mortality levels in Brazil will be determined by the zip code of where people live. If you live a peripherical area, you have at least ten times more chances of dying. Simple like that.
Health has become a wealth issue and this heartbroken reality highlights perverse aspects of unequal societies. How is media going to ask people to stay at home if workers depend on their wages to buy food? How is media going to ask citizens to wash their hands if they don’t even have access to basic sanitation?
Government should be a relief for those who are suffering the most in times like this, but Bolsonaro keeps only saying “So what?” for over 7000 families who are now grieving their loved ones due to Covid-19.