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  • Karen Visser

Making a difference during COVID19

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

My three-year-old learnt a new word this week –Coronavirus. It’s usually a good thing to see his vocabulary expanding, but it’s a sign of the times that Coronavirus andCOVID-19 have become terms used in our everyday conversations. I’m trying to help him understand why we need to wash our hands more frequently, why he’s not allowed to shake his teacher’s hand anymore, and why I can’t come into his classroom at kinder – it’s difficult enough for me as an adult to process, let alone my little boy.

Across Australia, we are starting to experience the impacts of Coronavirus in many different ways. We’ve already lost lives, and our hearts go out to those families who are grieving at the moment. We’ve seen fear and panic take hold as people queue at shopping centres and purchase much more than what is needed. We’re seeing people lose their jobs and businesses take huge hits and even shut down. We’re beginning to distance ourselves from each other physically and have to learn new ways to engage in relationship and community.

These are incredibly challenging times for us as a nation, and like every other individual and organisation, we at Compelled By Love are engaging with how we respond within our sphere of influence and impact. In doing that, we have the added context of being an organisation with projects in different parts of the world, considering not only how this is impacting us as Australians, but how it is impacting people across the globe in different countries.

It’s a concern for every nation how their healthcare system will cope as the virus continues to spread. But for many developing nations, containment of Coronavirus is absolutely critical because their healthcare systems are so incredibly limited to begin with, and what they do have is not accessible to the general population. Countries are going into lockdown on the discovery of just a few cases, because without doing every possible thing to limit the spread, millions of people could be infected and many of those will die.

Other nations are implementing measures along similar lines to Australia – travel restrictions, social distancing, greater hygiene practices, limiting gatherings of groups of people, working from home, with many closing their schools and educational institutions as well. In this process, many questions are being raised that we as Australians don’t have to ask.

Questions like, how do you engage in social distancing when you have 10 people living together in a small house, or sharing one room? How do you implement good hygiene when you don’t have access to running water or soap? How do you purchase provisions in advance when you are barely surviving on the small income you have? How do you stay at home to look after your children when that means zero income along with zero support from the government? How do you maintain community and connection when you don’t have a phone or access to the internet?

There is genuine loss and difficulty for us as Australians. But as we face a global pandemic, it is also an opportunity for us to have a global perspective which recognises how incredibly fortunate and privileged we are to live in Australia, with all that we have access to. We have access to good healthcare, we have access to credit and loans, we have access to technology that keeps us connected and enables many people to continue working, and as a foundation to all of that, we have a government that provides financial support to individuals, businesses and our overall economy.

So how do we respond to all of this? Instead of worrying about when we can get more toilet paper, spare a thought for the person who has no water to wash their hands. Think about families who literally cannot give their children any food to eat today, because they haven’t been able to go to work. Think about the older person who cannot get to a doctor or any form of medical treatment. Think of the poor and the vulnerable, who at a time when they most need help and support, are cut off. 

Right now, our project partners have most of their activities on hold as they do their part to prevent the spread of the virus. We are doing all we can to support them and encourage them, and to prepare for the impacts and fallout that will require financial and emotional support for the people we work with in communities. We need and value your continued support, recognising that it is the poor and marginalised who will suffer the most as this crisis unfolds. If you’d like to make a special donation as part of your personal response to Coronavirus, not only within your own family, but in the context of others also, you can head to our website -

Let’s be mindful of the global context, and what others are suffering, and practice gratitude and thankfulness for what we do have. Locally, check in with your neighbours and others in your world – share your tissues and toilet paper and nappies – let’s counteract the panic and the selfishness with generosity and sharing. Let’s be communities more than ever at this time of physical distancing. And let’s take care to do our part – practice good hygiene and maintain social distances – to protect those who are most vulnerable and limit the spread as much as we can within our personal control.

Together, we can make a difference – and now more than ever, together is the only way forward.

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