Robin Dewa, Bodi svetloba NGO, Slovenia
(1 April 2020)
We never thought this could happen to us. Covid-19 rapidly spreading all over the world causing the world's largest lockdown. A dangerous disease, prone to mutations and with no vaccine for it at the moment. A lockdown like this has never happened in the entire history of humankind before.
As I've read the news today, between 800-900 people are infected in Slovenia by Covid-19 and 17 deaths. Worldwide, more than 44,000 deaths and around 890,000 people infected. Sad news indeed. True numbers are, unfortunately, probably much higher.We must do everything possible to save lives of the vulnerable population, such as elderly and sick people, so we must behave in a responsible way, no doubt about it.
The Covid-19 has affected our Erasmus+ work as well. Participating Slovenian students in Thinking Otherwise project were getting prepared for the TPM in Ljubljana in May, rehearsing the programme and doing activities in the field of addiction to mobile phones and food advertising. We were helping students develop critical thinking and reading skills. Me and Maja Štekovič were exchanging ideas about the future activities when, due to the Covid-19, schools had to close. Suddenly, we had to be creative and offer our lessons to students online. I'm now getting used to have my individual sessions with students via Skype.
In our Sloga NGDO platform, we voted for the new members of the platform council via email as well.
Our Thinking Otherwise TPM in Izmir at the end of March was cancelled as well, so we recently turned to Zoom and participated in an online virtual TPM. On the positive side, Thinking Otherwise members learned how to be creative and adaptive in using the new technology but there is still no substitute to face-to-face meetings.
Our virtual TPM - action shot!
Being confined to homes and going out mostly for buying basic stuff with mandatory masks and gloves, it's quite depressing and sad situation. Streets void of pedestrians and vehicles is something we have only recently adjusted to, but the impact of the prolonged global lockdown can be even more devastating for billions of people in future.
Therefore, in these challenging times, it is important to be positive in thoughts and actions, take all precautionary measures in accordance with governments' rules and to be in the touch with Mother Nature.
... And in these challenging times, we must not be selfish. The global challenge requires a global action and this is what the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres from Portugal called for when talking about the establishment of the UN Trust Fund for COVID19 Response and Recovery to respond to the emergency and recover from the socio-economic shock. With the right actions, the Covid-19 pandemic can enable the beginning of a positive type of global cooperation.
Therefore, the developed countries must assist developing countries, not only in their battle against Covid-19, but in reaching Sustainable Development Goals as well. For far too long we haven't cared about diseases, hunger , deaths and other challenges in the developing world as these scenes were far away from us ("Thank God it's them instead of you" - from "Do they know it's Christmas?"). For far too long we haven't cared about environmental destruction, climate change and other negative stuff. We can't go on thinking nothing is wrong.
Now, as the whole world faces the same challenge with Covid-19 , the whole world has got to get together in the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include health. Now there is no more time to look the other way, but to walk the talk if the humankind wants to survive.
On the positive side , the times of uncertainty also offer the windows of opportunity if we are intelligent enough to notice them and act upon them. As late Nelson Mandela once quoted: "Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation". To cut the long story short - the things will never be the same in the future. The Thinking Otherwise project helps us learn new skills and exchange innovative ideas . Covid-19 is the lesson both educators and students can learn from, in order to be both humble and resilient. Perhaps we will need these new skills and knowledge in the not too distant future when the world changes for good.