The year 2020 has proven to be a defining period that has impacted all of us around the world in ways we could never have imagined. No doubt, Covid-19 has brought uncertainty, but to some extent, also opportunities. We have all been struck with some kind of hardship in one way or another. We have been compelled to adapt to a new way of living, which in all honesty, could be here to stay, at least for some time.
My story is a story of hope, a story of progress and development…
My whole life I have always been a field person, from field trips as a Geography student to field supervision as a technical Assistant (Hydrologist) during my NYSC days while working as an enumerator on various humanitarian and development projects. It has now been two years since I joined the ‘working class’, but never have I been exposed to working remotely until recently, which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t joined the FlexiSAF Foundation team, quite a remarkable experience, I must say.
Before now, webinars used to be a thing that I just came across online while reading some write-ups. In fact, I can vividly remember the first time I heard the word ‘webinar’. It was in the year 2015 in a short advert on Facebook by a renowned Texas-based scholar. I still can’t believe that I fully participated in organizing one, but it did happen. In fact, anything is possible when you find yourself amidst young, vibrant, and brilliant team players working for a subsidiary of a tech company.
It would be a lie to say I wasn’t paranoid the moment the index case of Covid-19 was announced in the country. If America and other developed countries are being knocked down by the virus, what would be the fate of a developing country such as Nigeria? This question kept me up all night. Gladly, I resorted to prayers and decided I needed to initiate a lockdown protocol for myself. I tried to go round the schools which had the foundation’s beneficiaries under my purview to check if their results had been compiled, and that was the last field activity I did before the country was brought down to its knees by the pandemic.
The next thing for me was to buy food items. It wasn’t even shopping time yet, but who cares! I wouldn’t risk waiting for the virus to hit my state before I start thinking of how to stock up my store; “better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it” as some may say. I rushed to the market without a budget, let alone a list of items. While some people were busy saying the virus was infecting only the rich, I was busy planning how to survive a month straight without having any contact with the outside world.
On the 16th of May, I received a call from my line manager informing me to get ready as we would soon be going out to distribute food items to our beneficiaries. I became very excited because I had been seeing the covid-19 food relief activities flooding our social media pages, it was first carried out in Abuja, and then Kano. The outreach was very timely and the targeted communities had proven to be worthy of the intervention because of the deep appreciation expressed by them, you can tell even from the pictures.
I tried checking my storage to see if I had any personal protective equipment because it had been a while since I stepped out. Luckily, I found two face masks and a pair of surgical gloves, and that’s it! I was good to go! We set out to the field one Saturday, it was a hot bright day, which is typical here in Yola. We started with the Anguwan Bola community, which happens to be the most vulnerable and did a house to house drop-off of the food items. The kids were excited upon seeing us, and my manager was surprised as to how I called them by their full names. I said to him, they are my kids, and we all smiled. We proceeded to other communities and gave them their own share of the food items. The parents were surprised and grateful by the thoughtful gesture; they never expected to see us especially at a time like this.
Another milestone for me during this Covid-19 epoch was learning how to cook. I was home alone. My mom went on a very important visit to Kano just a few weeks before the lockdown. Can you believe it? No home-cooked meals, no commercial transport to get to any restaurant, that’s if they were even open, and most, unfortunately, I didn’t know how to cook. With the help of my mom, I was able to cook for myself in this period of lonesomeness. I would call her early in the morning for some tips, some of which I suddenly forgot, but thank God airtime wasn’t an issue, so I would call her even while cooking if I had forgotten anything she had told me, and that was how I succeeded in becoming a good cook.
I cannot account for the amount of data I bought during this period. I watched tons of travel videos as a tourism lover and also registered some courses online as part of an obligation by the Foundation, a great initiative by the way! There is no better time to develop oneself than this period.
Family is the most important thing in any kind of situation you find yourself in. Covid-19 has taught me how important a phone call from a family member or friend is. I get calls all the time especially from my immediate family members. Calls could never be a replacement for physical presence, but psychologically, those phone calls went a long way in helping me cope.
The Covid-19 crisis was a time of growth and development for me. How are you coping during this time? Do share with us, we’d love to learn from you.