Author: Bethan Marsh

Najlaa, humanitarian worker in Jordan – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Najlaa who has worked in the humanitarian sector for years to support the unparalleled numbers of Iranian, Palestinian and most recently Syrian refugees who have sought refuge within the Kingdom of Jordan.

Here is Najlaa’s story:

“On the 17th March this year, the government of Jordan declared a state of national emergency through the activation of national defense laws, which was followed on the 20th of March by the setting of a country wide curfew.

Picture by Thomas Siems

“The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have reached absolutely everyone in Jordan, from local communities to the large Palestinian and Syrian refugee populations living in various camps such as Azraq and Zaatari.  The guidance from the government is similar to that in Europe and the result is closure of all but the most essential services, the banning of mass gatherings, in particular all religious services under the guidance of the both the Fatwa Council and the Council of Churches as a preventive measure.

A significant rise in issues such domestic violence, GBV and depression is a huge cause for concern”

“For everyone, staying at home 24/7 is challenging and frustrating, however here a significant rise in issues such domestic violence, GBV and depression is a huge cause for concern and is exacerbated by the widespread lack of essential supplies:  “Those who can, are looking after themselves,” said Ahmad, who fled from the Syrian city of Hama and now lives in Mafraq. “For the many that don’t have enough food, there is very little that can be done.” He added his own household had enough bread for three days, no vegetables but enough sundries to last a month.

“At this point there are no confirmed cases from any of the refugee camps (Azraq, Zaatari, EJC), however the camp populations have undoubtedly been affected by the as a significant number of humanitarian workers have been unable to access the settings since the pandemic was announced, which has resulted in a range of essential activities and services such as protection, GBV, SRHR and education being stopped indefinitely.

“For the many that don’t have enough food, there is very little that can be done”

“To their credit certain organisation are attempting to adapt methodology in order to implement activities remotely, however as these are strictly controlled by the authorities the effects are limited.”

Hope, humanitarian expert in Kenya – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Hope, a humanitarian  monitoring and evaluation expert who has worked in some of the most difficult countries in Africa on a range of emergency responses. She is currently in Kenya.

As of April 1st, there are a total of 50 confirmed new cases and 1 death reported from Kenya.

This is Hope’s story:

“As in other parts of Africa, Covid-19 is having a huge impact on the lives of Kenyan people.  As the 29th most populated country in the world with a population of 47.6 million people, the potential for the virus to spread is daunting.  Bordered by Somalia, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia, Kenya’s 580,000 square kilometres are divided into 48 semi-autonomous self-governing regions, all of which are dealing with the outbreak in differing ways.

“The main issues so far are a lack of credible information/guidance, and a large huge deficit of essential supplies such as soap and hand sanitizer that are critical to minimise the spread within large rural areas of the country.

“The potential for the virus to spread is daunting”

“Not surprisingly, on the 20th of March the Kenyan Ministry of Health identified community mitumba, vegetable and bazaar markets as potential vectors for the disease.  The advice was for country governments to ensure all such venues were ‘cleaned up and provided with soap and water’, however at this point little has action has been taken other than token efforts to disinfect certain areas which appear designed to appease, rather than stop the spread of Covid-19.

“A recent article in the newspaper ‘Nation’ showcased Ms Monica Mugure, a mitumba seller who said her revenue had gone down drastically. In the article, she said:

‘Usually, by such noon, I would have broken even, but now I barely get half the amount, but we have to persevere because we depend on what we earn here to cater for our daily needs. We must work in order to eat.  I can’t begin to think of a situation where I am forced to close the business because I have many expenses, such as fending for my family, and paying rent and school fees for my children. If we close, I don’t know what will happen, unless the government provides us with food’.

“We depend on what we earn here to cater for our daily needs. We must work in order to eat”

“As the situation worsens, those who are able have begun practising social distancing, however it is almost impossible to self-isolate given that there is so far no financial assistance package for individuals or businesses from the Kenyan government.”

 

 

 

 

Would you like to share your story of the situation/ challenges facing your country?

We are asking anyone willing to share to answer the following questions and send to – centre@wcia.org.uk 

  • What is the situation like in your country?
  • What are some of the main challenges for people?
  • Are there any positive stories coming out of this situation that can be inspiration for others?  

Simon, humanitarian worker in Myanamr – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Simonhumanitarian worker who has chosen to remain in country during the pandemic.

Here’s his story:

Water festival Thingyan, Yangon, Myanmar Pic by juls78

“Generally, life has not yet changed dramatically in Myanmar.  As of March 31st, there are 10 official confirmed cases of Covid-19. The government are issuing advice regarding mass gatherings, however among the general public there seems to be a collective delusion over the virus: I have heard a number of widely believed theories as to why the Myanmar believe they are “immune” and how the climate renders the disease defunct – none of these are based on fact and are causing the public to generally ignore warnings.

“There seems to be a collective delusion over the virus”

 

The Buddhist national holiday of ‘Thingyan’  a Water festival (pictured right) which would normally see hundreds of thousands of citizens lining the streets in April has in theory been cancelled, however it is widely accepted that there is no will or way to enforce the decision and this is the greatest concern for a widespread outbreak.

“We have stocked the office with roughly 2-months’ worth of food and water, as we prepare for the worst-case scenario”

“Supply chains here as always are difficult at best, but we have stocked the office with roughly 2-months’ worth of food and water, as we prepare for the worst-case scenario where an outbreak will inevitably lead to a military enforced curfew and potential violence against international workers whom the government are blaming for the virus.

“The window for evacuating is closing fast, and even when flights are available it is almost impossible to prove to airlines that you are clear which leaves many of us with little choice but to ride this out as best we can and hope for the best.”

 

Clara, Australia – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Clara who lives in Australia as a personal trainer and runs her own fitness company.

Clara says:

“Last December and January this year, brought swathes of fires that destroyed 800,000 hectares of native habitat and more than a billion animals, with smoke that was so thick it made Canberra the most polluted city on earth. February saw hail stones the size of golf balls wrecking cars and homes, and now along with the rest of the world – Australia is stricken with coronavirus.

“I can’t speak for all Australians but the effects of the coronavirus so far, for myself, have been both grounding and profoundly unsettling. Grounding because, as a self-professed workaholic, the virus has carved out a little desperately needed peace amongst the hustle.

“How long will this last? What is the new normal ?”

“Unsettling because, aside from painfully bringing to light the inequities in Australian society (remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities will be among the hardest hit when the health care system inevitably becomes stretched to breaking point), the virus has left us all in a state of existential limbo – what is around the corner? How long will this last? What is the ‘new normal’?”

“At this early stage of the pandemic, Australians are facing the same day to day hardships as the rest of the ‘developed’ world: shops that are out of basic essentials like toilet paper, soap and hand sanitiser; figuring out how to balance working from home, with the stress of keeping young children occupied and educated; finding ways to stay connected with extended family and community as we strive to socially distance ourselves.

“We are not on full lock down yet but expect it any day”

“We are, about a week behind the UK, both in terms of the spread of the disease (at the moment the Australian Capital Territory only has 71 confirmed cases), and in terms of the messages we are receiving about how to protect ourselves. We are not on full lock down yet but expect it any day.

“We can still go to the supermarket to get groceries (in fact this is the only way to get groceries as all home deliveries have been cancelled), and we are still encouraged to exercise outdoors and can congregate in groups of no more than 10.

Personally, I’m trying to balance an appreciation of this brand new quiet in my life”

“This morning some friends and I stood 2-metres apart in a car park and did burpies – a sparse fitness flash mob. Personally, I’m trying to balance an appreciation of this brand new quiet in my life with worrying about family, getting work done and trying not to despair that things may not return to normal. But then, I’m not really sure I want them to completely return to normal, as 2020’s catastrophes seem like the much-needed wake-up call that the life we were living was neither desirable nor sustainable.”

Jelly, Thailand – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012.

Since then he has worked with a number of International not for profit and UN agencies throughout Asia, West & Central Africa and the Middle East as a Country Director, Director of Programmes & Operations and Head of Region to implement complex humanitarian responses and international development programmes.

 

Paul reached out to Jelly, a Philippine national who has worked in the humanitarian sector in Thailand for many years.

Here’s her story:

“Despite Thailand and particularly Bangkok being widely perceived as a wealthy country with a thriving capital and a business hub with one of the strongest economies in S.E Asia, there is a huge wealth divide that perpetuates a large working-class section of society that exist on criminally low wages.

“There are tens of thousands of Myanmar refugees residing in detainment camps”

“These are the people who are now suffering the worst effects of covid-19 as despite best intentions, they generally live in cramped overcrowded communities which make it impossible to self-isolate or to afford protective equipment such as masks which leads to an increased spread of the virus.

“A further pressing issue for the humanitarian system in Thailand is the tens of thousands of Myanmar refugees residing within the 9 detainment camps along the Thai/Myanmar border.

” It will be incredibly difficult to halt the spread through the camp”

“The camps are situated within dense jungle and despite benefiting from limited medical clinics provided by international organisations, sanitation is poor and when rather than if the virus reaches the population it will be incredibly difficult to halt the spread through the camp, into the local community and through the incredibly porous border into rural Myanmar (Kayin State).

“Prior to the pandemic the government were in the process of closing the camps, however this has stopped, and very little information is being released by the authorities.”

 

 

 

 

Would you like to share your story of the situation/ challenges facing your country?

We are asking anyone willing to share to answer the following questions and send to – bethanmarsh@wcia.org.uk 

  • What is the situation like in your country?
  • What are some of the main challenges for people?
  • Are there any positive stories coming out of this situation that can be inspiration for others?  

Cate and Nico, Italy – Global Perspectives: Stories of Solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases.We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

 

Click here to view the Map of our Global Perspectives: solidarity stories 

 

Cate and Nico have lived in the UK and Italy and both run small business in the city. They are currently in Turin, Italy.

“Our daily lives have been turned upside down almost overnight. As a self-employed osteopath, I had to make the difficult decision to close all my practices in order to preserve my health and that of my patient’s health and their families.

“It was not an easy decision given that I have no other source of income and my monthly outgoings have not been affected at all by the virus! My partner and I have therefore confirmed with government advice and isolated ourselves at home.

“We can perceive a strong sense of community among the few people that we encounter”

“I think the best way to deal with this difficult, strange and paradoxical period in our lives is to take time for ourselves, which can never usually do because of our stressful routines, and take advantage of this situation to indulge in those activities that we had been putting off due to a lack of time.

“We see people regularly going the extra mile to be patient and kind to one another”

“Here in Italy, or at least in Turin, on those rare occasions we leave the house to go grocery shopping, we can perceive a strong sense of community among the few people that we encounter.

“There has been an incredible transformation in our behaviour as a collective which has unified the country and now, we see people regularly going the extra mile to be patient and kind to one another.

“In the end, we are all in the same boat, fighting the same battle and we all hope to be able to return a version of normality that many of us took for granted until a few weeks ago.”

 

 

 

Would you like to share your story of the situation/ challenges facing your country?

We are asking anyone willing to share to answer the following questions and send to – susieventrisfield@wcia.org.uk 

  • What is the situation like in your country?
  • What are some of the main challenges for people?
  • Are there any positive stories coming out of this situation that can be inspiration for others?  

 

Jennifer, Vietnam – Global Perspectives: Stories of Solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases.We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

 

Click here to view the Map of our Global Perspectives: solidarity stories 

 

Jennifer Elksnītis is from Canada but living in Vietnam

As of March 24th, an additional 11 coronavirus cases were reported in Vietnam, however no deaths have been recorded.

 

Jennifer says: “Here in Vietnam we’ve been in containment mode since January. So far it has worked amazingly to flatten the curve and we haven’t yet had community transmission. Schools have been closed since Jan 23.

“Our workplace is going to 50% distance work, something we never thought possible until now.

“We are at 134 cases, 0 deaths. They have tested and self-isolated or quarantined thousands of people, including entire towns at times. The first case was identified about 7-8 weeks ago. They have been highly effective at tracking contacts of cases all the way to the fourth degree out.

“They have tested and self-isolated or quarantines thousands, including entire towns at times”

“And they’ve been very big on both official quarantines and self-isolations.

“Lastly, a catchy PR campaign has been launched as well as daily text notifications and steps to take to stop the spread. Comedian John Olivier recently mentioned it on his show .”

 

Watch the PR campaign below:

 

 

Esther Chiyeke, Zambia, retired Nurse– Global Perspectives: Stories of Solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases.We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

Click here to view the Map of our Global Perspectives : solidarity stories 

Esther Chiyeke, a retired nurse,  is in Kalulushi in the industrial Copperbelt in Zambia

Zambia is considered by the World Health Organisation to be particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 because of its strong economic links with China and the significant Chinese community.  Zambia is also one of the most urbanised countries south of the Sahara. Zambia reported its first 2 cases of Covid-19 infection on Wednesday 18th March – both detected at the airport on arrival from France.

Esther says: “People are scared of this virus. They are taking measures for themselves. Those who can afford it are buying masks and gloves. The few restaurants, banks and other public places are using this for hand washing. (pictured below left)

“It has always amazed me that in the UK so few restaurants, cafes, bars and takeaways have no public hand washing  facilities like ours. Maybe they can learn from us. However, I spoke to some people in the street and few seemed to know much about Corona.”

“People are scared of this virus. They are taking measures for themselves”

The Ministry of Health has set up critical care beds in all 9 Provinces in preparation and is importing more supplies. Despite only having 0.09 physicians/1000 of the population (UK 2.8/1000) Zambia has 2 hospital beds/ 1000 (UK 2.5/1000) * and even before any cases were reported started preparing and stepped up precautions. Hygiene on public transport is enhanced. At the moment travel is not restricted but many are avoiding travel.

As of March 23rd, Ethiopian Airlines started distributing coronavirus donation support to nine countries a further nine countries in Africa, which included Zambia. News reports said according to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the support includes 1.1 million testing kits, 6 million masks & 60,000 protective suits.

  • Source: OECD Health at a Glance 2019.

									

Martina, Italy (former UNA volunteer) – Global Perspectives: Stories of Solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases.We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

Click here to view the Map of our Global Perspectives : solidarity stories 

 

Martina Gargari is a former EVS/ESC volunteer with UNA Exchange. She is from Rome but lives in Madrid.

“I have been living in Madrid since February this year. A state of Emergency was declared here on march 13th and therefore, most people have been staying in their homes since then.

“We are allowed to go out just in order to shop food (one person per family), to go to pharmacies and to walk our dogs. Police patrol the neighbourhood, verifying the reason why you are walking down the street. You have to queue to enter the supermarket, respect the distance to buy a medicinal. The freedom of movement is suspended, for the common good. All the shops, bars, pubs, restaurants are closed.

“Police patrol the neighbourhood, verifying the reason why you are walking down the street”

“Public transport is reduced (but not suspended), as a few categories of workers are still “regularly” working: doctors and nurses, “in primis”, but also supermarket employees, pharmacists and couriers, as we recently discovered.

“Where available, people are “smart-working” from home but that is not always possible.The main challenge we are facing is maintaining a healthy mind and, possibly, body.

“Spend

ing the whole day at home gives you far more opportunities to think about your life, your family, your friends. But this gives you way less opportunities to exercise. You need a strong will.

“The main challenge we are facing is maintaining a healthy mind and, possibly, body”

“I think it’s difficult to realise all the chaos and problems we are facing. People dying in a blink of an eye. Yet, the only thing we can do is, simply as it seems, stay at home. Relax. Watch movies. Read books.

“First in Italy, then in Spain, a tradition has been started: at a given time, decided on social media (8 p.m. here in Madrid) we are stepping out on the balcony to clap, in honour of doctors and nurses and their huge work. Even if it lasts only a few minutes, it gives you a sense of community.

We are not alone in this “confinement”. We are not fighting alone this virus. We are altogether. We are one. And, even if it seems barely impossible to see the end of this period, it will come.”

Gemma, Hong Kong : Stories of Solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases.We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

 

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map sharing solidarity stories from all over the world 

 

Gemma in Hong Kong shares her experiences

“So in Hong Kong we have been dealing with the virus for quite a while now. It really started to affect people at Chinese New Year (24th Jan). All universities, schools and learning centres have been closed since then. Offices went straight into work from home and were opened a few weeks later once visitor numbers had been slowed by shutting certain entry points to HK.

“There was one week of panic buying which kind of coincided with the end of CNY. The shelves were a bit empty already, it’s kinda of like the Christmas panic in the UK because it’s the one time of the year everything closes over CNY.

“Some positives are the community spirit here is strong.”

 

“Given that HK was hit hard and was the epicentre of SARS in 2003 I think this has helped to be very prepared. There was a new government department, the CHP, set up after SARS and they had plans ready to put in place should something similar happen again, hence being ready for this corona virus.

“There is a level of normality that has been reached now. Shops are open, restaurants too. Pretty much 99% of people wear masks in the streets. It’s more of social convention than actual protection. All lift buttons, hand rails and train carriages are disinfected every few hours. Your temperature is taken in most places you enter.

 

“Pretty much 99% of people wear masks in the streets”

 

“Some positives are the community spirit here is strong. When panic buying started there was a big drive to get supplies to charities. Lots of small businesses are being supported with some companies offering free advertising for them. The outlying islands, parks, beaches and hiking trails are busy! The air feels fresher and less polluted too!”