We are all impacted by COVID19 – A.K.A. the Coronavirus – one way or another. No matter where we are in the world and where in the age spectrum we sit. However, some of us are at higher risk – for instance, older people and people with severe underlying health conditions. Some of us are more impacted than others due to individual, community or geographical circumstances.
The one thing that surely must cut across all these levels is being overwhelmed with the constant influx of information and misinformation both on and offline. You see, hear, read one thing and before you have a second to grasp it, you are flooded by a completely different set of information. I bet we are all also experiencing multiple stages of panic, paranoia, fear, uncertainty and disbelief or even denial! “How could this happen”, or “this could never happen to me”! It is happening to us, all of us, and all of us together. But mostly it’s compounding the already uncertain future that young people face today!
COVID19 – now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, a new disease for which people don’t have immunity to – is spreading around the world beyond expectations. However, this crisis shouldn’t be a call to panic regardless of how tough that might be under the circumstances! This is a reason to organize ourselves better. Young people always ask me how can we change the world? How can we be a part of what is going on in the world? What is the young people’s role in global challenges? Well there is no time like now for young people to do what they do best: self organise, self-mobilize and come together no-bars-held just like you have in the biggest crisis of all – climate change. Come together in global solidarity!
We all know disasters happen, whether it be natural disasters or global pandemics, but usually they don’t hit so close to home for most of us and hence we successfully “otherise” them to another part of the world or to another community somewhere far away from us. But, with the COVID19’s “forest fire” nature, it’s better to take preventive measures and be geared to respond immediately! Here are some things you can do in this time of global solidarity.
As a precursor to the 5 pointers on what to do as a young person in times of the COVID 19 pandemic, the most important and urgent step is to be rational, to exercise calm and reason in all situations. Now this can be particularly tough in countries with a lock down situation. This is when it is key to take heart in resilience as a community, and an opportunity to use social media as a tool for community therapy and communication with each other on a positive note of solidarity – as opposed to one of panic. To learn from social media solidarity over the climate crisis, where movements sparked worldwide to support the cause and show young peoples’ resilience.
Now before a deep dive into specifically what you all can do, start by applying practicality and common sense and follow these five simple pointers to manage the COVID19 and also come together as a resilient global community:
- Follow simple and routine World Health Organization WHO guidelines: Properly wash your hands more often, avoid crowded spaces, avoid handshaking, if you are sick wear a mask and seek medical attention immediately.
- Educate your families, friends and community: Spread community awareness online and offline. For example look at how the Scouts are raising community awareness around the world and how the Ndlovu Youth Choir in South Africa used music and dance to dismantle myths about Coronavirus. Unfortunately, fake news spreads so fast in times of uncertainty. So be responsible. Verify every news and information before sharing. Be a source of calm during this storm.
- Volunteer: Find opportunities to volunteer in your community. If there are older people or immunocompromised people help them out. Help out vulnerable people in your community to pick up their groceries and medicine. Healthcare workers around the world are called to work in high demand and they might need your help looking after their children or looking after their parents while they attend to life-saving work in clinics and hospitals around the world. This example shows how young people in London, UK, are helping out the elderly.
- Donate: Find a reliable charity to donate. The UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation for an example, just launched a Coronavirus response fund. You can also support other campaigns such as “Stand together to beat Coronavirus” by Global Citizen urging that the G20 countries contribute financially to strengthen efforts by the World Health Organization.
- Hold your Government accountable: Advocate for free testing, reliable information, paid sick leave, investments in science and Universal Health Coverage.
We need young people’s leadership now more than ever. Most of all, in doing all of this, stay healthy and stay safe. Listen to Health Authorities. Stay alert and keep a calm open mind.
And here is my personal way and recipe for taking care of myself! It is a Sri Lankan tea that my mom taught me. Take some coriander seeds, boil it for 10-15 mins in water. Add some ginger, turmeric and a hint of black pepper. Finally add a bit of honey and enjoy!
Stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram for more updates on how to stay on top of COVID19 for well-being of your loved ones, your community and yourselves and inspirational stories of young people contributing to the global response. We can fight this together!