The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it loads of uncertainty, but one thing is for sure: it has had an impact on all of us, and continues to change our world in so many ways.
It seems like both yesterday and a previous lifetime since we made the decision to cancel FIGT’s 2020 conference. For many of us, it feels like we’re on Day eleventy million of living with the pandemic.
For some of our community, there is a glimmer of hope. There have been cautiously optimistic conversations about flights, family reunions and border openings. For others, there are new waves of uncertainty and even fear.
The reality is that all these weeks and months after that decision to cancel FIGT2020, we are STILL living with the pandemic. And even if by some miracle, we were to all begin to return to a life without lockdown tomorrow, the aftershocks of the last months are going to be felt for a long time to come.
Whatever your personal situation or experience, this has had an impact on all of us. The world has changed. We wanted to take a moment to reflect on the changes, the support that many of us still need and will continue to need for some time to come.
There are many in our community who are living with loss. Some have lost loved ones to COVID and some have experienced the dual challenges of bereavement and distance from their loved ones. Without being able to comfort and be comforted by family members or go through the important rituals of funerals - there has not been a good final goodbye for so many during the pandemic.
There is loss too in the plans, hopes and dreams, for the lives we thought we would be living by now. Many families are still separated by closed borders, passport issues, visa delays and more. For many of our community, there is no opportunity to ‘go home’ and see family. Travel has perhaps never been more complicated or anxiety inducing.
The pandemic has also confronted many of us with our privilege in ways we had perhaps not expected. We have been faced with differing medical care, access to the vaccine and the ways in which the pandemic has been ‘Chinese’, ‘Indian’ and ‘African’, depending on the stage of its development and variation. There has tragically been a rise in racist attacks against many in our global and local worlds.
Many of us have become more conscious of those who can easily access affordable medical care and a vaccination and those who cannot.
And all the research tells us that the pandemic has impacted women more than men, in the sense that so often it is the woman in the family who is handling work and home-schooling and whose career will suffer.
It is not all bad news though - the pandemic has forced some of us to slow down, to reflect and to think differently about the future and in doing so, to make positive changes. The demise of global mobility has been greatly exaggerated. We are still moving and working through transitions, even with the added layers of complexity that the pandemic brings.
If there is one huge challenge ahead of all of us, perhaps it is this - to hold space for each other as we continue to live with the pandemic. Each of us is experiencing this so differently. What might bring one person to their knees will not impact someone else in the same way. We need to continue to listen and to create safe spaces for each other to be able to share and seek and receive the support they need.
While living with the pandemic is the theme of this month’s Focus, it is a thread that we will try to continue to return to regularly as we try to do what we can to support the FIGT community. If you have suggestions for future content, we would love to hear from you. Please reach out to Flor Breton-Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sarah Black at email@example.com.
And a very special thank you to all our volunteers who despite their own unique pandemic challenges continue to keep FIGT happening.