Coming Together During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Stories From Our Team
June 1, 2020 –
The world came to a standstill in March 2020, when COVID-19 cases started multiplying at an alarming rate in 200+ countries and territories. To contain the virus, many nations chose to impose strict measures, forcing billions of people to lock down or self-isolate. While the pandemic generated a lot of fear and uncertainty, it also brought forward incredible stories of humanity.
Much like the novel coronavirus, our attitude and the way we handle challenges can be infectious. Stories of compassion and generosity pop up on the internet every day from all over the world, creating a ripple effect that encompasses us all.
We all have a choice to make. We can react in fear or shift our perspective to spread love and kindness. We can make the most out of this situation and help those who have a harder time doing the same. We can take this time to help others less fortunate than ourselves, or less resilient, like kids, the elderly, people with lower incomes or whose jobs have been affected by the outbreak.
Last week, I asked my colleagues at Convert to share how they’re handling lockdown in their countries (our team is spread across 5 continents), the challenges they face, and how they’re helping their family members and local communities cope with these challenges.
The kids are really happy that we spend more time with them, especially after we relocated to a village for more fresh air every day! My wife’s parents would definitely go to the neighbors and friends unless we were here, so now they take responsibility for the whole family (including the kids) and don’t go anywhere in order to be able to look us straight in the eyes (which saves their lives as well).
Other than that – it’s a much calmer environment, less hunting in the forest – should be also good for animal populations to heal from the human impact. I don’t know what’s in my city, which was locked down on Monday, but here in the village, people have become more disciplined and don’t leave their gardens – unbelievable circumstances!
I have shared masks and little bottles of hand sanitizer with the people who provide us with essential services. We have paid them out for the lockdown period in advance. And will pay them out for the rest of the month if the lockdown is lifted as promised. In the absence of any maids or help…. we are bonding much better with each other as a family. We are complaining less… and cooperating more.
We have also experienced a lot more play time with the kids. Sitting down with my daughter playing with princess dolls, and with my son with his LEGO and Playmobil. We did notice that with my partner the tensions are highlighted and we “explode” more often and that is the reality as well, we handle stress differently and being all this time together without having a break from each other also highlights issues that are yet to be resolved. We are all more grateful for the things we still have and we surely talk to our family way more, over video calls, compared to before. We live a short flight away from each other and calling was always the norm but now we talk daily where that might have been once every three days before.
Dennis, Convert’s CEO, was also kind enough to share a video message, check it out below.
You can find the articles Dennis mentioned in the video below:
For our colleague Karim, the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise:
Life has simplified a lot, and I get to enjoy my family a lot more! Because of the high amount of interaction between us (and less nursery), my 2yo little boy started speaking much better French (the main language we use at home). Also to adapt to the situation, we created a supervised play area for them on our balcony, a space that was unused before, and I managed to create a real isolated home office for myself, a first in many years and I’m loving it. That said, we deeply miss going out, especially out in nature! For the rest of the world, the best positive impact from the quarantine that I can see on the internet is that many people are becoming more spiritual (meditation apps are booming) and more conscious about health, the environment, relationships, etc…
Donating money so people can buy food and other groceries. This means they can stay home and properly observe the lockdown. Doing my part to flatten the curve 💪🏾
The first set of donations went to a group helping only women. The 2nd set went to 10 different people all over Nigeria via a website started by a friend of mine called Angels Among Us. I’d still do more as the lockdown extends.
Steps we are taking as a family:
Locking ourselves in the house and doing our part to stop the spread. This means a lot of family time with parents and kids that we had never imagined. Kids have been surprisingly understanding and very good.
To help cope, we hold events in the house like game nights, cook together (big meals), watch movies. I even included the kids in the Convert onboarding process, they loved the story of Convert!
Donated as much as we could to the Prime minister fund to fight the crisis. A small hand matters massively.
Doing our part in feeding the stray dogs and cows outside. They are suffering as much as us in this phase.
All of my family members are dispersed in different areas at the moment and of course, some time will pass until we are able to see each other, so in order to stay connected and give each other emotional support, we are video calling with more frequency than the usual, so we are as together as we can be in these circumstances.
I have been getting groceries home-delivered for now, so I have ordered 2x on some items so I can give them to the security people that work in my building complex, as they are continuing to work very diligently and they are more “exposed” than the rest of us who can stay at home.
We’re doing groceries for our parents, which means groceries for 3 extra homes – my mom, my dad and my inlaws’ homes (which we are also paying for). This to ensure that they are not leaving their homes, this way we know they’re safe and have instructed to not let others in their homes unless they’re probably covered! We also give out gloves to workers if we see they do not have any – like at the shop and gas station, also sanitizer. Surprisingly, the kids are handling the lockdown well – turns out they love being home and can deal with being home for long periods. They just eat a little more than usual 😄😄. As for my husband and I, even more surprising is that this lockdown seems to work out very well for us. Things have been super hectic for a few weeks (months actually), to the point where I filed for divorce right before lockdown. And then just like that, we’re forced to be in each other’s space and face for 21 days! 🤦♀️😅. This time together has changed both of us – we deal better, making an extra effort to try to understand each other and be kinder and more affectionate. We are communicating much better now and I think that is the main thing. Oh and maybe the fact that the courts are closed as well 😅. We also collected food from our church and distributed it to our members so they could be stocked up.
For the rest I try to encourage my family and friends to realise the seriousness about this pandemic, to take precautions, adhere to the new regulations, to stay home and check in via social media now and then to keep us all sane.
We sent money to less fortunate family members so that they could get 2-4 weeks’ worth of groceries. We donated to a charity that helps the urban poor of Manila to buy food for them. And to an initiative of musicians and artists in Manila – they raised funds to buy PPE for healthcare workers and hospitals. We’re also in touch with our families more often than usual through video calls. We’re checking in with friends to see how they are. We usually just chat with friends through WhatsApp or FB messenger but now video calls with friends are becoming more frequent. We’re also making sure to continue ordering meals from restaurants in our neighbourhood, they’re one of the hardest hit by this crisis and I really hope they survive. We give them tips by taping a small bag of coins on our door before they arrive – contactless tipping!
One thing that’s apparent from Converters’ stories is we are all in the same boat, trying to figure out how to overcome this challenge together. Managing the stress of everyday life, overcoming financial burdens, homeschooling or entertaining children while working from home, being confronted with marital problems isn’t easy to handle under normal circumstances, let alone when confined in a small space for an indefinite amount of time!
Still, challenges like these force us to reach deep within ourselves to find resources we didn’t know existed and show up for ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.
Napoleon Hill said that “every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
If there’s one thing to take away from the stories shared by our team, let it be this: turn this obstacle into an opportunity to be kinder, more patient, bond with your family, and become a beacon of light for others. Or, like Hans Kluge, director of the European branch of the WHO, stated, “act with kindness, act with love, but with physical distancing.”
Over to you now… How are you dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak?