We live in a time of massive complexity and nothing will ever be the same again. The global health challenge of COVID-19 has radically changed our landscape, wherever we are located. Given our globalised world, no one is immune to this pandemic, the health challenges it presents and the associated social, economic and political consequences.
Regardless of race, privilege, socio-economic status, geographic location, religion or creed, we are all impacted in some way or another, to different degrees. COVID-19 is proving to be a massive equaliser.
Coming together as a nation
All nations, communities and families have been affected and we are now called to action to tackle head-on the very real challenges this virus presents.
How we act, now and in the weeks and months ahead to tackle this challenge, individually and collectively, will determine our common future.
It is a time for a spirit of compassion and care to be nurtured and directed to those most at risk of being affected by this virus. Those most vulnerable that are living on the margins and struggling to protect themselves, to feed their families and manage the stress of this time.
We are seeing in the past weeks of lockdown how the most vulnerable are facing extreme hardships, including hunger, fear, displacement and confinement. We have seen communities mobilising, organisations and government departments getting stuck in and civil society groups forming, working together in new, agile, innovative ways with technology, resourcefulness and grit to scale up rapidly to advocate and support relief efforts. There is much evidence of a deep desire to collectively face the challenges together and the spirit of collaboration is strong.
A challenging time
Given poor socio-economic conditions, limited options, marginalisation and lack of information, vulnerability and access to resources many face very real challenges at this time. The focus needs to ultimately be on ensuring that those who are unaware or isolated, living in abusive homes, hungry, on the margins of our society or acutely vulnerable, are integrally included in the strategies, tactics and ways in which this virus is addressed, especially during the lockdown period.
As world citizens, regardless of nationality or location, let ubuntu and optimism, coupled with pragmatism and compassion, guide and direct every action we each take, going forward.
There are a myriad of ways to get involved and many groups, initiatives and efforts are underway, or sprouting up, across civil society, in organisations, at all levels of government and within homes and communities.
Changemakers in South Africa
Consider finding ways to use your skills, resources and any time you have to contribute meaningfully. Follow reliable sources of information and updates and don’t spread fear and fake news. Stay safe, follow the guidelines for social distancing, stay at home, follow rigorous hygiene and universal mask-wearing with Mzansi Masks.
Value your freedom, liberty and health. Act with integrity. Spread love and compassion. Check on your neighbour, donate to a charity, volunteer your expertise either online or in-person through a feeding scheme or relief effort, call a friend, feed a child, shop for an elderly person and give to a stranger.
We are sharing useful info on our social media platforms and our team is working remotely and available at any time. We will contribute and participate in whatever meaningful ways we can and where we can add the most value in the weeks and months ahead. Please contact me if you wish to discuss anything further.
Let’s ensure social solidarity, good governance, mobilisation across all sectors and contribution with a spirit of community cohesion and activism. If this energy is directed swiftly, optimally and in solidarity, with compassion and care, and we work together, we can make a difference. With commitment and integrity, we can find ways to each actively contribute to the collective action and impact positively.
There is an opportunity in crisis. Let us embrace the chaos. With an open heart, let’s work together, be sensitive to others’ vulnerabilities, yet held by our interconnectedness and common humanity.
By Lindy Briginshaw
Founder of Development Works Changemakers
With 25 years of professional experience in the development sector, Lindy is the driving force behind Development Works Changemakers, a specialist evaluation, research, facilitation and development consulting agency, based in South Africa but working internationally. She is passionate about working for social change and community upliftment, yoga, nature and time with family and friends.