Shout Out: This is the moment to turn to each other

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

In my high school typing class, we used to memorize the keyboard by typing, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” Apparently, there is something about the keystrokes in this phrase that made it a perfect exercise. I would adapt that stanza by saying, “In Namibia, now is the time for all good people to come to each other’s aid.” It is time for us to turn TO each other in charity and not ON each other in panic.

This state of emergency is disturbing. Many of us are wondering how it will impact our day to day lives. We have only two confirmed Covid-19 infection cases (so far). Those infected are adults who should not have been selfish enough to travel in the midst of a global pandemic.

Still, it can be reasonably argued that Namibia was living on borrowed time as soon as the wider world began locking things down. If it wasn’t those two Romanians bringing the disease in, it would have been someone else.

This entire situation has made me think. Now is the time to unite this country. We must stop self-segregating based on racial, tribal, language, religious and class groups. Covid does not discriminate, neither should we. Why not use this crisis to break through the walls that separate us.

As the worldwide and local responses to Covid begin to bite, some people will lose their jobs, hopefully temporarily. I wonder how long my job will exist if businesses cannot afford to advertise. Forced unpaid furloughs will happen. People will face their monthly bills and the need to feed their families without a monthly paycheck or with a late or halved paycheck. This might be the first time in their lives when this has happened. Uncertainty is scary.

Churches are talking about shutting down which I think is bad news. Mass or services should be said over the radio or streamed online.

People living behind high walls (particularly the elderly) might be suffering. No one would be the wiser for a very long time. Let us be in daily touch with our older neighbours and colleagues, or even people we do not know but see every day. Why not wave or ask how they are doing or if they need something.

Sadly, harsher times are on the way. Covid-19 is like an earthquake. It hits and does damage. When people begin to clean up, the aftershock rolls in and causes worse destruction.

Now is the time to text relatives and old friends. Facetime with them (I talk to my mother on Messenger almost every day), call them or do a safe visit where you are outside their gate or door. Ask if they are ok and wave to them. Shouting through a window is not rude in times like these. Human contact is vital in a nerve-wracking crisis.

For those at home alone or who feel isolated, cabin fever is a possibility. This can happen especially for those who feel stuck. They can get overwhelmed as they worry about their jobs, paying bills, children missing school, and loved ones far away.

All of us should donate what we can to the lifeline-helpline phone services. Those wonderful people are needed as vulnerable people begin to feel isolated. The government can surely spare some money to co-pay counsellors and social workers staffing those phones at least temporarily? Telecom or MTC, can you not absorb the cost of such phone support services during this State of Emergency?

The internet is a blessing. Go online and communicate. Can the Aweh packages and Telecom monthly costs be reduced just for the State of Emergency period?

People stuck at home or feeling alone, why not update your Facebook page that has been dormant for months. Get on the wild side and check out Instagram or Twitter. Start a blog about your day to day activities. Stream movies and binge-watch TV series.

If you don’t have NetFlix or Amazon Prime, get it or subscribe to a Multichoice package (can you guys reduce your fees until the State of Emergency is over?). YouTube has free history and nature biographies and older movies and documentaries that are great to watch.

The government should give the nbc money so they can broadcast 24/7 at least during the State of Emergency. This is good not just for entertainment but for official information dissemination. Radio stations, particularly in various languages, should have long call-in shows and music playing 24/7.

Families that do not usually sit together for a meal or to watch a show can use this time to re-bond. Parents, TALK to your kids (do not judge! Guide them instead).

Get out the puzzles, board games, books you never finished or start those ugly clean up jobs you hate. It has rained, so tackle that overgrown, weedy garden. Sew torn clothing, get the old crochet or knitting basket out and make something fun.

Go outside and call out to your neighbours on all sides and see how they are doing. You need not even see each other’s faces. Make that contact. It is important to not isolate your mind even though you are forced to isolate yourself.

Any municipality that turns off someone’s water or power or landlords who evict people during this State of Emergency should be slapped.

Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their country and their neighbours and themselves

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