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Positive focus on COVID-19

June 2, 2020 9 min read

As individuals, communities and a nation at large, we had mixed reactions about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and of the lockdown. I asked friends, family and colleagues to reflect on the positive aspects and good things they learnt or experienced during this uncertain and unusual period.

Some asked, “Is there any good thing to write home about from this experience?”

Others cracked their heads long enough and eventually shared their three points on the subject.

A few thought they could not be limited only to the three points, adding that they could actually write a book about circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

I was humbled in particular by two people whose jobs were negatively impacted by the pandemic yet they enthusiastically contributed.

My intention to focus on the positives despite being bombarded with negative news and peppered with fear was to appreciate the good in the bad situation in line with the Sesotho proverb that “Pula ke mahlopha a senya” meaning there is always a silver lining in every dark cloud.

Here are 20 themes that emerged from the positive reflections and I categorised them into two big areas, Remembering Me and Beyond Me.

Remembering Me

  1. Appreciating the Gift of Life

 

  1. Time to rest/ Introspection

 

  1. Self-care/Do it yourself

 

  1. Learning how to use Information Technology (IT)

 

  1. Quality time with family

 

  1. Financial savings

 

  1. Surviving on minimum basics

 

  1. Resting from ‘cool things’ or social pressure
  • Reducing Social Financial burden: No weddings, baby showers or birthday parties to contribute to, less financial burdens that we often don’t plan for, but somehow feel committed to fulfil
  • No hand shaking, no hugs: “I am not a touchy person and I am so happy having to live without the unnecessary touching. I am enjoying my personal space, without being told I am antisocial
  • Detoxing: I drank less wine because I had no access to alcohol

 


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  1. Solitude
  • Learnt to do things on my own. I used to walk to town alone and it was peaceful. I liked the fact that this person emphasised on walking NOT using a taxi. Something we take for granted, at least for those who live in towns where using a taxis is more common than walking.
  • As I live near the main road, I appreciated the quietness due to fewer cars and less movement in the morning compared to normal days when people go to work.

The Bigger Picture: Beyond Me

  1. Philanthropists of Lesotho

I am confident to mention that “Ntate Matekane and Ntate Nthane are some of the Philanthropists of Lesotho” and people would easily relate to the meaning of this tongue twister as these noble role models gave generously to Basotho during the lockdown and in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

  1. Increased focus on HYGIENE
  • People appreciated that they learnt more about proper hand washing and the benefits of washing hands
  • Work and home environment have never been cleaner, I started cleaning the door knobs and light switches on daily basis as many hands touch these items.

Did you know?

Lesotho has a WASH Policy that was launched in 2001, but only being implemented effectively now in 2020. Recap, WASH stands for Water, and Sanitation and Hygiene. This I learnt from my friend who is an Environmental Health Specialist

  1. New Words/Expanded Vocabulary
  • We were reminded that running water in Sesotho means ‘metsi a phallang’ NOT metsi a tsoang pompong.
  • I learnt the word ‘Tippy tap for the first time’ though I understand that some of the local NGOs have been helping communities to construct these taps for a long time as part of health and hygiene education in the rural communities. 
  1. Love your neighbour as you love yourself
  • Individuals, associations and communities collaborated in many forms to help those in need. We were reminded that as human beings we need each other
  • I consider myself a stingy person, but during this period I was motivated to help and assist even those that I don’t know. I was happy to help those who are less fortunate than me
  • When people were given food parcels in my village, I excused myself so that those who are more deserving could benefit. Some people thought I was arrogant, but for the first time I was able to think of others before myself.

 

  1. Growth for local businesses
  • I was able to sell eggs within my village. I had more clients because those who usually buy eggs from supermarkets in town or from colleagues at work were forced’ to buy from me and they all paid in cash.
  • Selling face masks and face shields was an injection to my business, compared to the normal period when I used to sell only cosmetics and ear-rings which was uniform in other shops
  • We were restricted to buy from local shops and we didn’t have to cross the border to South Africa. This means more revenue for our country as we supported local shops.

 

  1. DECISIVENESS
  • Where lives of individuals are concerned, leadership had to take immediate action
  • Deciding what is ‘essential services” vs. “non- essential services” and making peace with the fact that some people would be hurt and negatively affected
  • People can adapt to change and new ways of doing things, as shown by obliging to and adapting to lockdown restrictions
  • South Africa’s decisiveness on closing its borders helped flattened the curve.

 

  1. WORKING SMARTER
  • Working shifts helped us to have more time at home
  • Spending less time on traffic
  • We don’t have to go to work every day, we can work from home on certain days
  • We can still achieve more without being in office from 8am to 5pm.

 

  1. APPRECIATING THOSE WHO BUTTER MY BREAD
  • I received my full salary even though I didn’t go to work most of the time
  • My hectic job schedule kept me busy and I worried less about the pandemic
  • I study part-time, and being home allowed me to finish my assignments
  • Some organisations got funding because of activities related to COVID-19.

 

  1. “Re lla mosoang” / We stick to our Culture
  • We still supported the bereaved families during their time of need
  • Lockdown restrictions didn’t stop up from attending funerals in large numbers

 

  1. Time for God and Prayers

Out of every four people I talked, at least three had responses on GOD’s Love.

 

  • My faith in God has increased more than ever. Maybe it was the only thing, I had to cope with COVID-19
  • Reading scriptures and listening to the sermons
  • I appreciate the strength of the church leaders. They tried their best to keep us calm using the word of God
  • I learnt without a shadow of doubt that God is in control.

I think it is worth to conclude these positive reflections with a serenity prayer with goes as follows - “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference”.

As we say ‘AMEN” to these positive reflections on COVID-19, what are the new things that we can integrate into our lives as our new norms, as we continue to live with the concerns of COVID-19?

Palesa Matšasa is the founder of ‘Find Your Voice Initiative’  - a social set-up where people come together to discuss, reflect and learn from each other. She is a public speaker and regular contributor to Metro, who writes on Arts, Culture and Health issues. She can be reached at pndabe@yahoo.com

 

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