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by GrIStuF e.V.

Impressions During a Global Crisis: Part II

Hello again from Team GrIStuF,

In this time of change and uncertainty some of our participants are all busy working on creating better possibilities for our future and trying to make a change in the world. The following essays are the second part in our COVID-19 related series. Happy reading, we hope you enjoy this input and can take away something!

"A Unique Strategy" in combating corona pandemic

Sweden - Setting an example

Among more than 200 countries in the world- being affected by COVID-19 and its impact on economy, livelihoods and social structure, there is one country that stands out in its strategy. They have most of their country’s parts open, people can be seen moving freely around the cities, no forced lock-down, no additional law and enforcement agencies putting in extra work; a kind of strategy which is largely backed by the public themselves.

According to many international commentators, Sweden has got its strategy right. They make an argument on the basis of “nature” of human beings. With an idea of pursuing “voluntary social distancing”.

I had the honour of representing Pakistan at the Global Ministerial Conference in Stockholm where 200 young people from around the world along with Ministers from more than 80 countries participated in - all for one- cause of “road safety”. It all happened in the mid of February when the virus was still only spreading throughout China and the international attention to the problem was lacking. During my visit, I got the opportunity to see a “true welfare state” from up close. Punctuality is highly valued in Sweden; cleanliness is second to none and most importantly the governance of rule of law is unmatchable.

“People follow the rules not because they are bound to follow but because they know and believe that the rules are for themselves. Their actions ECHO of their diminished EGOS”

Recent scenarios depict why the Swedish strategy is right. Government along with protecting the democratic rights of people, is not only allowing them to work but also giving constant precautions regarding social distancing and other necessary measures which are being followed not with the force of legislation or administrative orders, but with the true sense of “human spirit”. This makes Sweden an “exception”. With no economic loss and pre-dominant safe social norms, Sweden is setting an example, not only for the rest of Europe but also for the rest of the world. It is not that a “regime-like silence” is observed there as a long debate is in the media, between the scientists, regarding this experiment as whether this approach is sustainable, or the government has put their trustees into a never ending danger which will be determined by the coming time, but they have set an example of true “elite class” of the world.

Stockholm is seen as an epicenter of the virus where the casualty rate is fairly high, but it has been stated by the official sources that their intensive healthcare system still can bear more pressure with positive news in their pocket and that the curve has started flattening. Stockholm not only pursues this strategy as an aim to maintain social distancing practice over a longer period of time for any futuristic concern, but several Corona-commentators concerned this as a try to induce “immunity” in the Swedes, which will help them in combating any futuristic pandemic. However, official sources have confirmed this concern to be treated later on as their first and foremost priority to contain the virus as early as possible.

Different approaches around the world have suggested that Corona is going to take away lives until and unless people take precautionary measures voluntarily. Sweden’s policy of “voluntary social distancing” is a practical example of that. We have seen death looming over most of the economically strong countries, with a heavy economic loss and forced lock down which has contributed not only in breaching democratic rights, but also resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being jobless.

Which country, state or nation got its strategy right to fight this pandemic? Time will surely give us a comprehensive view but in the case of Sweden, it has been widely accepted that “voluntary social distancing” is the ultimate answer to combat COVID-19.

by Muhammad Adeel Samar

Thoughts on the COVID-19 situation

Covid-19, an alarm against a bleak future for the naysayers of other prolific scientific projections like climate change, or a one-time crisis that should go without its lessons?
2020, a year of woes? That may not be true in its entirety, but 2020 will surely be remembered in the annals of history as a year when the world came into a sudden halt.
Almost nobody knew that the year would change the course of our lives for good, even though some people (myself included), may have had a foreboding sense on January 1st 2020.
From the cancellation of almost all forms of travel, to the closure of workplaces and schools, life as we knew it decided to take a new shape. A new world order has surfaced that some of us may never be able to adapt to.
It is depressing to reconcile with the fact that our world today is run by politicians, who do not necessarily heed the advice of scientists and policy makers. The Covid-19 pandemic has been predicted by many scientists across the world, yet no country in the world was ready to control it.
The silver lining to this pandemic is that record low levels of pollution have been recorded in several parts of the world, since the biggest factories that contribute the most to global carbon emissions have been on a standstill. The great decrease in both land and air transportation has meant, that less fossil fuels have been burnt and therefore less atmospheric pollution has been registered. Furthermore, wildlife is starting to roam the world like they used to do before the appearance of mankind.
But what have we learnt from all of this? In my opinion, the simple answer is to acknowledge the superiority of science when it comes to projections that have global consequences, such as climate change.
The Covid-19 pandemic, as hard as it may have been for all of us, is but the tip of an iceberg when compared to the multi-faceted devastations that can be caused by climate change. The scientists who have predicted the Covid-19 pandemic are the very same scientists who are predicting a far more catastrophic crisis on the looming with regards to climate change.
As young people therefore, I believe the time has come for us to put aside our egos and to take care of our elders and advocate to our parents, teachers and even politicians to join us in preventing an ecological and social disaster.
Let us remember the thousands of souls that have been lost, as a result of our carefree attitude towards nature and let us try to avert an even greater catastrophe.

by Alieu Senghore

Thoughts on the Lockdown

I would like to talk about the lockdown in the students-residence I am residing in. We are all young people of different nationalities and cultures. We did not have close connections with each other, everyone went about their business without having the time to communicate and share ideas. The only thing we did communication wise was to greet one another and move on with our lives. But with the lockdown, although things are not going as we all expected, we have discovered the spirit of togetherness and the sense of belonging so we all are bonding well.

For instance, birthdays are usually organized or celebrated among individuals of the same nationality with just some few friends from other countries. There was no unity and solidarity.

With the lockdown, just between girls, everyone is invited. We do sports, celebrate and dance together. We have become a family, we stand together, we help each other with everything. We come from different countries, and cultures but we accept others for their differences, we respect cultures and we have the desire to get to know each other better. We learn new things every day.

It is through this that people are being encouraged, most especially those who are having some challenges not to give up on their dreams.

Although this pandemic has caused a lot of havoc on humanity and prevented events such as GriStuF 2020, I believe it is giving us a chance to see beyond race and culture. We are all humans and being humane to each other should be of the highest priority, no matter of race, colour or culture.

by Akuvi Elom Synthia-Precious Ahiaba

Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health

The outbreak of the corona virus disease (COVID-19) has created a global health crisis that has had a great impact on us and the way we perceive our world and everyday life. While working with the community here in Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh), I have observed many situations that led me to think on the whole situation on a deeper level.

This pandemic has tested all of us but also opened up multiple lenses to approach different global issues and reflect on ourselves in depth. I want to emphasize the importance of mental health during this crisis and how the pandemic has challenged each of us in our own way. On an optimistic note, now there is time for us, to come together, to stand for each other, and to listen closely to others. Currently, I have the privilege to work with the Refugee and Host Community in Bangladesh. While I am working with them, I remember to always refuel myself in order to work with others. I promised to have an open ear for others and reach out for help for myself as well. That is how significant the balance of prioritizing your own mental health and understanding self-limitation, while battling a crisis is. The wrath of Covid-19 has reached the refugee camps and put people under tremendous pressure and uncertainty, while they worry about their future, family, and near ones.

Let’s work on this together; giving ideas on how we can help each other and how to strengthen our community with better solutions. Due to Covid-19, many people are not able to access adequate medical services and continue to live in harsh conditions where social distancing and isolation becomes a luxury they cannot afford. In short, the world is unwell and is massively suffering. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to share the strengths and struggles of this marginalized yet resilient community I work with as an example to share that hope still prevails. I want to reiterate: Let’s think about solidarity, not isolation!

by Nadia Sultana