Realisations of a young woman during COVID-1918 May 2020
Mau, 17, from Southern Leyte in the Philippines describes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on her life.
I attempted to compress into a single word this pandemic that made its way into our young lives and wreaked havoc. Through the lens of the young, I wonder how it feels to see the world somehow fall apart through our very own eyes, seeing most of humanity struggling to fight back with this unseen threat. At such a young and crucial point in our lives, we are experiencing a global crisis not just on health, but also on many aspects of our society that the extent of its damaging repercussions might be too complex and complicated for us to digest.
Now, I ask you, my fellow young people, how do you feel? Is everything alright for you?
One thing is certain. It is not an isolated case for me. Going through this crisis is indeed not easy, and has never been easy with anyone else’s, too. We are fighting our own battles right now. Being cut off to see our friends and family and the outside world may have been a struggle. Still, I know that we could get through this together.
It is for our own good and for the greater good that we stay in our homes. We could help our nation stand up and fight, for our health workers at the frontlines in this battle. They, who became our new world heroes. We also acknowledge our low-skilled workers who play a significant role in combatting the pandemic. Our janitors and street sweepers who keep our communities clean for us to be free from the risks that may endanger our health. To our barangay officials, the police, and government employees who ensure the safety and well-being of our countrymen in the communities; so that every family has food on the table and gets through each day. To the initiatives of the civil society and non-government organizations who take part in giving out basic needs to the less fortunate. The youth thank you. There are still a number who remain unmentioned. But, even from the safety of our homes, we have seen your commendable efforts to help and serve the people, who are in dire need of basic commodities due to diminishing access to resources brought by the lockdown.
Yes, I hear you, my fellow young people. We are all inspired and motivated by these heroes. Those, who with their valiant efforts, contribute and play their part for the betterment of our country. We wanted to do something, too. I feel your burning desire and passion to lend a hand. And, yes! We have so much to do even from our homes. After binge-watching all those series that you wanted to see in the past month and all the books that you may have read, reread – again and again – right now, let us finally take into account the welfare of our fellow Filipinos in light of the pandemic. No pressure needed though. It is not as if we are obliged to do so. Take all the time that you need. And when you’re ready, we go. This stems out from pure desire and genuine will to act for our rising country. Without any further ado, shall we proceed?
First and foremost, we must inculcate into our minds to stay home, unless it is truly necessary or if there are immediate needs that must be acquired outside of our homes. Consequently, let us spread this message to our peers and also those who are within the reach of our influence. In order to flatten the curve, we must participate in mitigating the increasing number of cases. Observe physical distance and, when you are sick, practice self-isolation from the others. This is already a great help to combat the pandemic. So, stay home, peers!
Since we are within the confines of our home, probably closely knit with our families, remember that there are also those who may not feel ‘at home’ during these times. If they show any indication that they are unwell at home, understand that we do not know what they are battling with.
They are probably feeling isolated, sad, and lonely, brought by the distance from friends or people they usually hang out with. Some of them, we might not know, are probably victims of domestic child abuse initiated by their own family members.
In light of this, we, in a way, can help them by sharing the hotlines and contact numbers of the concerned authorities for children’s rights. The Bantay Bata 163 hotline, Commission on Human Rights hotline, PNP Aleng Pulis hotline which is open 24/7, and many others.
All the more during the quarantine, we must protect and promote children’s rights at all times. If you see someone treated harshly by people with authority outside your home, report through other authorities. If you see similar incidents on social media, report those, too. This act, no matter how small it may seem, could save lives and protect rights.
It might not be known to some of us that there are also dangers behind the façade of the online world through our phones and computers. We must be extra careful as the threats are now heightened. There are online scammers and predators seeking to prey on the most vulnerable ones in the world of the internet – children. We must be wary of those dangers and be vigilant to anything that we click online. We must also keep an eye out for probable cases of online sexual exploitation of children and proactively report cases through lifesaving hotlines available, such as the 1343 Action Line Against Human Trafficking. Report incidents of cyberbullying to help victims and stop the recurrence of these incidents. If we turn a blind eye, it could cause seriously detrimental effects for our children and young people. Stay safe. Spread the lifesaving information and save lives.
Lastly, spread the message of hope and positivity during these trying times. It won’t hurt to be kind to people whom we digitally cross paths with. Practice the act of online empathy. We are unaware of what they are going through. Let us try to understand the situation they are in because it has never been easy for anyone.
However, this does not mean that we will tolerate harassments, threats, and discrimination online. Stand your ground. Remember that you are aware of your own rights. Continue to protect and promote equal rights for all during this quarantine. Let us devote ourselves to become a living testament to the powerful message of gender equality.
Now, as we struggle to transition from our young lives without lockdown to the ‘new normal’ with the rest of the world, my hope is that the spirit of our resilience and the camaraderie among Filipinos and the global community persist and win against all the forces that try to bring the whole world down.
Let us stay safe, well-informed and positive as we fight hand in hand. We will get through this crisis together and we will be multiple steps closer towards a new world with a healed humankind.
With a brave heart amidst the uncertainties of the future, let us hold on to each other, shall we?
Emergencies, Protection from violence, COVID-19, Gender-based violence