Some Thoughts Abroad on COVID

In response to the separation that we are feeling from quarantine in the United States, some of our international staff interns have gathered to share their thoughts and experiences from their homes around the world. Here are some of the things the United States is missing, and some rays of hope in this strange and dark time.

All too often people choose to focus on their own lives and not watch what is going in the world around them, but this pandemic has made the global community unite in peaceful solidarity. Whether one lives in the United States or abroad, we are all in this together and need to create stronger mechanisms for containing future outbreaks. In France and Germany, my friends tell me how the government has placed strict controls and people are not allowed to be with more than one person from the same household outside for exercise or grocery shopping. Similarly, my relatives in the Dominican Republic have shared with me how curfews have been set by the government, and masks are required in all public spaces. Despite the need to practice physical distancing, people are uniting socially and connecting with loved ones with more frequency by video and phone calls. Our human resilience is what is allowing us to accept this new reality and stay sane, but we must not forget vulnerable populations like people experiencing homelessness and those who do not have the privilege to work from home. – Arielys (OEP Migrant Justice Intern)

In Indonesia, we have been aware of the coronavirus since late December of last year. The awareness gradually increased by late February until early March, the president appealed for the citizens to work from home. Malls began closing down and religious activities started taking place online as the number of confirmed cases increasing. Some essential businesses such as grocery stores, banks, and online taxis are still operating, but each province and city are implementing social distancing and travel restrictions differently. As per today, Indonesia has about 6,200 confirmed cases. But Indonesia's COVID-19 cases are likely underreported due to the low access to testing.Lauren Lang (OEP Friend)

Wake up at 7 am, shower, eat and run to the train station. Stand for 30minutes because its 8 am and everyone is rushing to work. Crowded streets, traffic jams, and noise defined this well-known city: Barcelona. It all has changed now. Quarantine and restrictions have changed the dynamics of our society. At the beginning only grocery shopping and walking our pets allowed us to step outside. Last week, companies reopened, but most of their people are still working from home. We have been on quarantine for over 30 days now. And even though the numbers are decreasing rapidly, everything is uncertain, and our health workers are overworked. Way too many people have died due to negligence.  

Luckily, children will be allowed to go outside by the end of this week and the rest of us will have to wait until mid-May. Although, still after 30 days, we haven't lost our hope, every night at 8 pm we go out to our balconies to clap for those who are working to keep us safe and at home. – Anna (OEP Environmental Justice Intern)

During the last weeks, Ecuador has suffered more than even in decades past due to COVID-19. This is definitely going to leave a mark in every aspect of our society and shows us that we are not ready against any pandemic. Being in Guayaquil, the city with the most cases in the country, shows a reality that people are not able to put in words. We are losing people close to us every week and we don´t know who is going to be the next. The numbers showed by the media are not even close to the real numbers and the saddest part about it is that we are our own enemy; people are overcharging for medicine or food. 

30 days in quarantine and a whole state of crisis is not enough to diminish our spirit, even in this situation. I have hope, speaking as a son and also as a father, that there is a tomorrow when our families can be safe. At this point, I can assure you that in this life nothing should be taken for granted and we should make the best of what we have. - Augusto Vinueza (OEP Friend) 

It’s no secret that the world is going through some of the most difficult times over the past few months and that we, as a society, are learning a lesson of what really matters in our lives. However, for me, this experience has become even scarier because of the decisions that the president of my country is making during this pandemic. In Brazil, our president is saying in his speeches that this virus is just a “little flu,” and that people should still go to work and live normally. However, most of the population is going against his will and staying home, respecting the quarantine, and doing their best to stay safe. It’s definitely scary to have all my family there and have no control over their safety, but it also gives me hope to see people coming together to do what they believe it’s right, supporting one another as much as they can while social distancing. These are scary times, but I believe we will come out stronger on the other side. – Mayara (OEP LGBTQ+ Intern)


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