Humans of the Pandemic: Together in Isolation
As restrictions are slowly easing in our country and we are heading out to experience life again, we would like to take some time to reflect on how the lockdowns have impacted many of our Pay It Forward family around the world. Many of whom, are still experiencing very strict lockdowns, curfews, real food shortages and complete loss of income, with no government support.
India is doing it extremely hard at the moment. Covid had decimated the economy, closed most businesses and has taken many, many lives. There is no government assistance and families are struggling to put food on the table.
Our photographer Rohit and his family are facing some of the toughest times of their lives. Meet Rohit and hear his story.
“I am Rohit. I live in the busiest city in India, Delhi. I am a photographer by profession. Before covid hit, I was working with Pay It Forward Tours and as a freelancer in India.
This situation has really affected us. I haven’t been able to get work. We have had many months of lockdowns and curfews and are told not to go out. We can't even see our relatives.
As a photographer, my work has really been affected. I have had no bookings for shoots. Summer is usually the busiest time of the year for me, I am usually booked out with weddings and other events, so this has been a very hard time for me. It has also impacted my mental health, with anxiety and depression, and feeling isolated from the world.
My dad, the main earner in my family, has a saree shop near my house. For many months, he couldn’t open his store because of this virus. Everything was closed and no one was allowed out. Even though the lockdowns have eased, not many people are buying sarees, as they haven’t got anywhere special to wear them.
During lockdown, all the dog clinics were also closed and sadly I lost my dog. I wasn’t even able to go and take my dog for help when she was sick. Losing her greatly affected me. It was like losing a member of our family.
On a more positive side, this lockdown gave us a chance to spend more time with my family. We never spent time with family because everyone was busy with their work. My dad used to go to work at 9 in the morning and come back very late at night. My brother used to go with my dad to help him, and I also go to work, so we never spent time together. But during this lockdown we had that chance to be closer. We talk about our life and our future and are trying to stay positive.
The cases of covid are extremely high here. My brother tested positive to coronavirus, but recovered very quickly. With 57 cases just in my street, the number of cases a day seems to keep growing. It feels like we won’t be out of this situation for a while. I’m glad my brother is now healthy again. I wish the same for everyone.
Covid has really affected all parts of our lives. We can't go to work, we can't earn money. We have really struggled. This father’s day was one of the toughest days for us. I saw my father cry and it broke me. I know he carries the burden of not being able to make an income to support my family. He feels hopeless and scared for the future. I decided to create a fundraiser to help my dad and my community. I want to help in any way I can. I hope and pray for this situation to end soon,”
To help Rohit and his family who are doing it tough right now, please follow this link and donate:
Caring for Cambodia (CFC) focuses on educating a generation of Cambodian children today, to make a difference for Cambodia’s tomorrow. CFC is a multifaceted organisation that offers support to children and their families in so many incredible ways. CFC trains teachers, provides tools, and removes barriers to learning. They build Cambodian leadership to guide and sustain their schools, so that generations of CFC graduates can reach their highest potential and make valuable contributions to their community. They offer food programs that provide two nutritious meals a day to thousands of students (over 2 million meals a year), early learning programs that are designed to support parents in learning skills they were not able to learn from their own families due to genocide and poverty, CFC provides resources for health, nutrition, early skills building and so much more.
It was an honour to have witnessed first-hand, the incredible work CFC does when our group visited Siem Reap earlier this year.
Meet Caring for Cambodia’s Deputy Country Director, Rebecca Large.
“I started working in Cambodia in 2014 and after obtaining my masters in International Education and Development, I started working for CFC in 2018. I help to establish strategic direction and execution of key CFC initiatives, and work with CFC's deputies to strengthen current systems and train staff.
All schools in Cambodia have been closed since the beginning of March which has made it challenging for continuing student learning, as well as, providing the additional support to the students in CFC communities. This resulted in everyone having to stay at home. It has been a challenging time, especially being so far away from home. However, our work continued to ensure continued support for our students and communities. Even with the CFC team working from home we are still closely connected to seek out priority needs and how we can best support everyone during this time.
(A CFC Team call while during school closures)
We have had to change our whole approach to education during this pandemic, but our team are leading the way and embracing the challenge through their remarkable transition to remote learning. We set out to work immediately to develop a remote learning strategy for more than 6,800 students who rely on CFC schools for their education. Before long, teachers were connecting via videoconferencing programs and formulating a plan to create and distribute grade-appropriate learning packets throughout the villages. In addition to learning, access to clean water was a top priority. We continued to ensure our water filters were maintained with various safety measures in place to ensure the communities could still access safe, clean drinking water. Another priority has been to continue our Food for Thought Program ensuring that our students receive two meals a day in the community. FFT ranks as CFC's most crucial program, according to our students, parents and communities.
Some of the biggest challenges we have faced during this time have been how to ensure that every student can continue to learn and how we can best support parents as they are now faced with supporting their children's learning at home.
My biggest fear is the impact this will have long-term on the education system for the teachers and students, especially the school dropout rate. That is why it is so important for us to work with all stakeholders to find the best solution to support remote learning. Additionally, the repercussions for the livelihoods of our communities as most rely on tourism in SR which has been negatively affected.
Despite this challenging time, we need to come together now more than ever, to support each other and offer assistance to ensure continued best practices in education as a way to support the future generations and provide different skill sets to allow students to adapt to the changing environment.”
To find out more about the incredible work that CFC does, check out;
https://caringforcambodia.org/who-we-are/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/caringforcambodia1
To truly understand the impact of a world-wide pandemic, we must first understand the hardships this country has endured. Nepal has suffered though civil war, devastating earthquakes and now Covid. This article is a reminder that although we may be doing it tough, others undoubtedly have it tougher.
Reconstruction after the major earthquake in 2015 (that took the lives of over 9000 people) has been a difficult journey for most Nepalese. Many were forced to take out large loans to rebuilt their homes and lives. Others made the tough decision to seek work outside of Nepal. As boarder closed, they have since been forced to return to Nepal and into lockdown. With no hope of finding employment, they have been forced to endure these inescapable circumstances.
Meet our Pay It Forward Tours Travel Leader in Nepal, Shahadev.
"I am Shahadev. I own and manage Everest Pioneer Travel in Nepal and am a tour leader for Pay It Forward Tours. I have had my business for 15 years and specialise in trekking and adventure travel. I have been lucky enough to share my beautiful country with tourists from all over the world.
For 15 years, I never thought I would face this situation. We have been in lockdown for many months now. The effects of the coronavirus have been devastating for my business, but also for my country. We are a country that relies heavily on tourism and for that reason, many people are now without work and even worse, no food. Some people need to rely on NGO'S to provide them with basic food items. It is a very sad and difficult time.
I pray that in the future, that the virus will disappear. I pray that people will stay healthy and that the world will return back to normal very soon. My message to everyone is; please follow social distancing rules, wear masks and do not shake hands, use namaste instead.
While things are so hard here, there is one blessing that has come, we can now see the Himalayas from the Kathmandu Valley because the air is so clean. I hope to recover soon and start operating our tourist groups again and sharing Nepal with the world."
Meet Victor from Puerto Maldonado, Peru.
"I am Victor and I live in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. The lockdown has been very hard for myself and my family, as I have to think about how to generate money and support my family, since my business was one of the most affected - tourism.
Although it has been hard, at the same time, it has been beautiful. It is an incredible experience, living day to day with my wife and children. I am learning every moment that family, love and unity make strength in any situation.
The virus has changed everything. I am a specialist jungle guide and I usually spend my days taking tourists to visit my beautiful jungle deep in the amazon. My plans and projects are stagnant. All I can do is wait for when this is over to start or see any possibility of working. It is very difficult not making any money and seeing my family sad knowing that the problem of the pandemic does not stop.
It is so difficult not knowing how long this will last and not being able to lead tours again this year. My specialty is sharing my jungle with visitors from all over the world and of course this is not possible. Thanks to people with big and kind hearts, I am able to keep going. They encourage me to keep going and not give up hope.
I know for sure that despite all the problems, the family union makes you strong and we must understand that life is one... and we have to change, being more kinds with the planet, with people and with oneself!
Some special moments I have experienced during the lockdown are; sharing a moment with my daughter - a game of chess, my wife giving us a cooking lesson, seeing how in more than 3 months of quarantine, our garden begins to have life."
Victor is excited to be leading Pay It Forward Tours adventures from Puerto Maldonado, into the Amazon, in the very near future. Keep a lookout for our upcoming tours at https://www.payitforwardtours.com/index.php/bookings