The news and current pandemic situation is at best grim and many news stories are accelerating a state of panic. While the situation is very serious there is much that is being left unsaid about how communities are taking leadership in improving public health and using informal initiatives to overcome the situation.
In such times actions that are common on a daily basis such as selfishness and carelessness are taking the centre state and sparking anger. As it is often the case, millions of actions of kindness are being sidelined and ignored. For every case of a person breaking quarantine there are thousands who have self-isolated out of care not only for their family but also for strangers they will never get to know of meet. For every person who ravages the shops and buying more than they could possibly need at the expense of others, there are hundreds of volunteers mobilising to provide everything needed for groups at risk who have to absolutely stay at home. In a situation that is relatively uncommon and new to our continent and region, a state of trying to keep calm and carry on has been transformed into a large scale responsibility-taking, risk-avoiding, caring for the vulnerable state.
Let us replicate the kindness and community actions that have the potential to transform our societies and help us overcome the pandemic: let’s build stronger, more resilient communities through acts of solidarity that each of us can take at the very moment individually but also together.
1) If possible work from home and only go out in uncrowded places or for basic needs, such as food. Physical distancing is one of the most caring acts you can do in your community to stop the spread of the virus.
2) Take care of the elderly and those at risk: community groups and online chats (WhatsApp, Facebook) have gained momentum in neighbourhoods and cities across Europe. If you are young and healthy consider buying food or medicines for your neighbours who have to self-isolate. Perhaps some are still going out because they have no one to rely on. With an aging population in the Balkans this can be very common. Take the initiative and leave a note for those you think could use some extra support.
3) Offer help with childcare. Not everyone can afford to work from home. And there are thousands who cannot have the privilege to self-isolate. Those are the supermarket workers who stock the shelves for us to be able to access everything we need. The healthcare workers who will be tired and at risk. If schools are closing grandparents usually have to be at home with children but they are also the most at risk. If you are young and healthy, and know someone who might need extra support, offer to watch children while at home if it comes to it.
4) Take time for personal development. Read books and articles, learn a new skill while at home. Relax and rest from the usual stress. A calm, more knowledgeable individual will have more strength to deal with our usual activism work when all this is over.
5) Find new ways to cooperate with each other. How can we better work together while apart? What tools are good to use? Would this be a good time for us to meet online and discuss how to use this crisis to strengthen the community management/leadership movement?
Remember that kindness and solidarity are much more abundant than greed and selfishness. That how we building strong communities now can reflect and impact on the future.