Team Empathy Journal – Part Three.
Continuing our blog about this time of global crisis, from the perspective of a voluntary team, and on a more personal level. Thank you for reading.
At the end of our third week in lockdown, we are still baking bread (with mixed results). The photos we share of our endeavours – with the occasional novel ingredient – keep us connected and smiling as flour turns to gold dust across the land. There is something restorative about using our hands and eyes to knead and mould a humble loaf whose goodness comes in stages as we smell its growing warmth, then tap out that sound of readiness, before finally nurturing our loved ones (and ourselves) with a simple lunch. It is a very human and intuitive pursuit, and helps bind us together as we remain physically apart.
At the same time, we are acutely aware of how fortunate we are that we can continue to bake. This week we have been in touch with Annie Emmanuel who runs our partner charity, One Hope, based in Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare. One Hope helps to rescue and rehabilitate vulnerable street boys. The charity supports its work by selling beautiful, beaded products hand made by the young people it cares for.
Annie wrote to tell us this: “The country is in lockdown. For many people the main danger right now is not so much corona, but hunger. In a society where the majority of people live hand to mouth, buying in bulk and stocking up for essentials is not realistic … kids are now ‘locked down’ in streets with soldiers patrolling, and all their usual sources of help and food are cut off.”
From Istanbul we heard more stable news when we caught up (virtually) with Rahaf, Operations Manager of Small Projects Istanbul, who joined us at our Monday meeting to update us on her team’s current situation. She runs and supports the women who comprise the Muhra social enterprise, and who make the bracelets that play a part in our Desperate Journeys simulation.
Previously, these 42 women were housewives in rural areas near Aleppo and Damascus (a few women are from Iraq, Egypt and Palestine). Now, displaced and away from home, each one of them is learning new skills, enabling them to support their families, and thereby gain self-esteem and fellowship. While Turkey is placed under partial lockdown, Rahaf told us that the women and their families are in good spirits, and that Small Projects Istanbul is ensuring that they have enough to eat.
We know that this Easter will be a different kind of celebration, and that for many there will be no celebration at all. Many will be lonely; many will be in hospital; many will feel painful loss or concern for family and friends who are directly (and indirectly) affected by COVID-19. Personal, private tragedies, unconnected to the virus, will also still be suffered.
Meanwhile, all over the world, volunteers are making themselves known to the vulnerable. Hospital workers are giving everything to save people. Businesses and other organisations (big and small) are remodelling operations with unprecedented speed to answer the needs of today’s emergency. Random acts of kindness are ongoing, and wonderful innovations are coming from and being sought in every sphere. And yet others are keeping morale high.
There is a common cause, and a shared knowledge that this crisis will not last forever. There is also an emergent hope that as a result of this critical point for humanity, we will take stock of where we are today, and that kindness, compassion and empathy will prevail – qualities that will prove to be more crucial than ever in the coming months and years.
Our warmest wishes to you all, as you stay at home, this Easter.
Stay in touch, keep connected and take care of yourselves – and others.
#chooseempathy #randomactsofkindness #radicalniceness