HOW COVID-19 HAS AFFECTED MY JOB, FAMILY AND FRIENDS
By: Mantopi Lebofa, director of TED – Technologies for Economic Development, Maseru, Lesotho
In a Sesotho (Lesotho Native Language) proverb we would have called COVID-19 “Mahlopha-a-Senya” which talks to that which carries some good as well as the not so good properties in it. There is some good that is seen in it and there is as well a trail of sadness it has caused.
We have seen some good in COVID-19 Era
The good that COVID-19 has brought is seen in the fact that definitely the Environment recovered when the world went into a lockdown that stopped movement of flights, cars etc. when industries were shut, when almost all activities that cause pollution we halt. As these happened, people at own households had an opportunity imposed by the situation to stay at home but also a situation of no income, these combined encouraged everyone to reconnect with nature and to produce own food on the compound.
On the other hand families enjoyed being together, children got better chance to be with their parents and the whole family and this has contributed to therapy and healing our society which was losing that connectedness as Pope Francis reminds us, of “family as the cell of society“ (Laudato Si 157).
In my own experience, amid the COVID-19 lockdown, I had some quality time with family which I did not have before COVID-19. We won back family time which due to different reasons related to work we were losing and I personally realized the truth in the Encyclical of Pope Francis, “Laudato Si – On Care for our Common Home” that when we are wondering what has happened to our common home, the earth, we probably have lost it when families stopped having quality time and providing the services the family as a cell of society is expected to provide for the protection of each other and the earth. In his own words, the Pope reminds us of the function of family in building a healthy society;
“Here, though, I would stress the great importance of the family, which is “the place in which life – the gift of God – can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed, and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth. In the face of the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life”. In the family we first learn how to show love and respect for life; we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures. In the family we receive an integral education, which enables us to grow harmoniously in personal maturity. In the family we learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given, to control our aggressivity and greed, and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm. These simple gestures of heartfelt courtesy help to create a culture of shared life and respect for our surroundings. (Laudato Si 213)
We have also seen some negative impacts
In my inner family circle, my daughter working in the Tourism sector lost her job when the pandemic imposed the lockdown, but I also work for an NGO which works with communities on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) that includes Environmental Education. COVID-19 restricted such activities and so there was no possibility to do these types of activities. I was only carried by my passion for Environment Education to find ways to continue awareness on environmental issues on Radio and other Social Media platforms to intensify environmental protection as failure to continue protecting the environment would exacerbate COVID-19 which requires cleanliness and clean running water.
The Pandemic has clearly caused most depression, it has taken people we know and love and left us with scars.
“Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems.” (Laudato Si 61)
“COVID-19 ke Mahlopa-a-senya” – COVID-19 has had positive and negative impacts!
Mrs. Mantopi Lebofa, director of TED – Technologies for Economic Development, Maseru, Lesotho, is a long-time partner and friend. We have worked on some joint projects on development cooperation and education for sustainable development in the last twelve years and stay in touch since then, even in times, when you are not able fly and to meet. Friendship survives the pandemic!