At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 has been difficult for so many people across the world. At the beginning of the pandemic, we reached 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 wanted to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. Over a year on from the start of the pandemic, we’re reaching out again…
Originally from Madrid, Santi works in our WCIA Communications team. He has a background in Communications, Latin American Politics, and Spanish teaching. He reached out to Israel Chávez, a US American attorney born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico dedicated to the community.
Here’s his story
So many communities struggled during this pandemic. The last year of pandemic has been especially difficult for Communities of color in the US because of the disproportionate lack of access to healthcare and resources.
I feel very fortunate to be in New Mexico and to have been able to remain gainfully employed and am always mindful that many others have not been so privileged. This pandemic has tested the mettle of every age group, profession, and economic level. I have seen increased stress among educators like my mother, increases in domestic violence cases coming before the court, and increase in unemployment like we haven’t seen in a very long time. That said, I have had the privilege of working with a broad cross-section of communities in New Mexico, across the state. It gives me the chance to see communities who have existed for more than a thousand continuous years and their collective perseverance. The pandemic has also shown the power of communities and our willingness to pull together. In New Mexico, we were fortunate to see partnerships of government leaders and community to stepped up to provide access to disadvantaged communities and tribal governments use inventive ways to protect elders and their traditions.
“I have seen increased stress among educators like my mother, increases in domestic violence […], and increase in unemployment like we haven’t seen in a very long time”
New Mexico is a unique place because it has been governed by Tribal governments, the Spanish government, the Mexican Government, and the U.S. government. As an Attorney and community organizer, I have seen every cross-section of the community struggle and pull together to help struggling community members and businesses, alike. I was proud to see New Mexico lead U.S. states in vaccination rates and I believe this was due to our deep and historic sense of community. Since early tribal nations first inhabited New Mexico, community has always been a priority. Today, that manifests in a strong community focus. That means we saw restaurants step up by providing food to those who were struggling, the State government waiving onerous requirements for families who lost employment, and medical providers working hard to reach marginalized communities.
“Since early tribal nations first inhabited New Mexico, community has always been a priority”
The threat of the pandemic was even more dire to tribal communities, no strangers to foreign diseases and whose populations are sometimes small enough to be existentially threatened. We did not see what I would describe as a “worst case scenario.” Instead we saw people support one-another and unselfishly work to get through a once in a lifetime struggle. Covid-19 has taught us a great deal about ourselves, our priorities, and how we treat one another. It has taught us about respect and a sense of collective responsibility. I am thankful to be in New Mexico, where this is a part of our traditions.