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With every crisis comes an opportunity

By Mikal Tesfay

Three weeks ago I was a guest at a very close friend’s wedding. As far as I can remember there were almost few close relatives invited to the ceremony. The ceremony was colorful and beautiful. The groom and the bride, who was shining out bright on her day, along with the guests were enjoying their party.

I finally sat in my chair after dancing to a couple of songs in a row. That’s when I heard two women, who were sitting beside me, exchanging ideas on how COVID-19 affected our way of life and celebrations. I was attracted to their conversation when I heard the wise response of the woman to her companion’s complaints about how COVID- 19 blurred the beauty of wedding ceremonies. The woman said, “I know that everyone became a victim of this pandemic and I know I might sound cruel and cold-hearted to say this. However, we are suffering due to the fact that we are only noticing what is negative while hiding the positive side of it in our subconscious. What we should emphasize is how to make a good use of the crisis.” She then added that the pandemic has stopped the extravagant ceremonies at weddings, sparing many parents who had to borrow a lot of money to throw lavish wedding parties.

At first, I thought the woman said those words in order to console her companion. But then again I realized that she had a point. In global terms, the negative impact of the pandemic has been colossal. Indeed, the disease has been devastating for those who lost their loved ones, and it has been particularly difficult for those who lost their jobs due to the restrictions imposed on everyday life to restrain the spread of the pandemic worldwide. Children cannot go out and meet their friends as schools are closed and social distancing is applied. Many frontline workers had no choice but to go to their workplaces where many have lost their lives.

Despite these devastations, the pandemic has brought something good both globally and locally. Globally, the drop off in commuting and the reduction in the working hour  allowed people to have a glimpse on what a less work – drive n society would offer. The restrictions imposed on people’s daily lives and lockdowns have benefited the physical environment. Air pollution that causes diseases, allergies and also deaths decreased somehow as cites became less congested due to the immobilization of so many vehicles that often release harmful gases into the earth’s atmosphere . Not only that, but road kills, which had been an issue globally, decreased and for a short period, wild animals reclaimed some of their former territories roaming on deserted city streets.

With the coming of the pandemic, worldwide, jobs that are often undervalued and underpaid, including that of looking after the old, working as a supermarket staff, giving delivery service, etc. began to be rightly seen as far more useful and important than the well-paid high status jobs. People, especially in the Western countries, who have for long affirmed self-interest and individualism, began to appreciate social life. Many people started to volunteer in charitable work and to assist first responders such as health workers. These are examples of the good side of the pandemic globally.

If we take a glimpse at how the pandemic has affected our country, it has had both positive and negative effects on our daily lives. Workplaces have been closed making life a bit challenging for many. COVID- 19 has also become a hindrance for our traditional and religious ceremonies. Wedding ceremonies, which are normally attended by a lot of people, have ceased to exist because of the social distancing guidelines.

However, instead of being obsessed with negative thoughts associated with the pandemic, it helps to look at the positive outcomes as well. On the positive side, the pandemic has bolstered the value of the Eritrean society’s “sharing and caring” through donations and community assistance given to its vulnerable members. It has enhanced our social integration, with families and communities coming together to deal with the challenge. The pandemic has attested the Eritrean people’s readiness to combat any challenges with unity. Also, COVID-19 restrictions on our social gatherings and limitations on social events means decreasing unnecessary expenditure.

My grandmother used to say that with every crisis comes something good. We all know that the pandemic hit us all very hard. But what we should emphasize is that it has also brought something unexpected with it. To conclude, we all know that the pandemic will soon end and cease to take lives. So. it means that we have a bigger fish to fry and it must be our duty to maintain the positive legacy.

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