audio by km

Sorted by: Theme: Community Connection & Isolation

Audio Story by Kakule

English Translation

COVID or Corona brought a lot of problems to the whole world because it was something we have never seen before. It was something that for the first time globally, even White, Asian and Black people all had the same problem. It killed people from America, Africa, Asia and many other places. It brought problems to people who used to work, go to school or go shopping. All of sudden everything came to a stop. Companies and work stopped. Shops and stores were closed. Schools had to be closed and people had to now stay at home. Those who went to work or school I really got worried about them,especially parents. We were asking, are they going to come back with Coronavirus? I know many people who lost their family members and friends. We have never seen this kind of death. White people died in thousands. Africans also died in thousands. The whole world there was just too much death. We did not know what to do and this was all because of COVID-19. There was not even medication at the beginning, that came much later along with the vaccines. By that time the whole world was really hurting, moaning and crying. People lost their jobs and to date some have never got their job back. A lot of countries’ economies went down, food was not there because there was no money to buy. You could not travel, the ones who were in Africa could not come to America and places like Australia too. Jobs were stopped, business died, food prices went up and people were shocked and surprised. If anything ever happens again we ask the government to help us make sure we do not go through something like this again and to make sure there is enough food for everyone and medication so we don’t face this again. 

Swahili Transcription

COVID au Corona ilileta matatizo mengi kwa dunia nzima kwa sababu ni jambo ambalo hatujawahi kuona hapo awali. Ni jambo ambalo kwa mara ya kwanza duniani, hata watu Weupe, Waasia na Weusi wote walikuwa na tatizo sawa. Iliua watu kutoka Amerika, Afrika, Asia na maeneo mengine mengi. Ilileta matatizo kwa watu waliokuwa wakifanya kazi, kwenda shule au kwenda kununua. Ghafla kila kitu kilisimama. Makampuni na kazi zilisimamishwa. Maduka na maduka yalifungwa. Shule zililazimika kufungwa na watu walilazimika kukaa nyumbani. Wale walioenda kazini au shuleni nilipata wasiwasi sana juu yao, haswa wazazi. Tulikuwa tunauliza, watarudi na Coronavirus? Najua watu wengi waliopoteza wanafamilia na marafiki zao. Hatujawahi kuona kifo cha aina hii. Wazungu walikufa kwa maelfu. Waafrika pia walikufa kwa maelfu. Dunia nzima kulikuwa na kifo kingi sana. Hatukujua la kufanya na hii yote ilikuwa kwa sababu ya COVID-19. Hakukuwa na hata dawa mwanzoni, ambayo ilikuja baadaye sana pamoja na chanjo. Wakati huo dunia nzima ilikuwa inaumia sana, ikilalamika na kulia. Watu walipoteza kazi zao na hadi leo wengine hawajapata tena kazi zao. Uchumi wa nchi nyingi ulishuka, chakula hakikuwepo kwa sababu hapakuwa na pesa za kununua. Usingeweza kusafiri, wale ambao walikuwa Afrika hawakuweza kuja Amerika na maeneo kama Australia pia. Ajira zilisimamishwa, biashara ikafa, bei ya vyakula ilipanda watu wakashangaa na kushangaa. Iwapo kuna lolote likitokea tena tunaiomba serikali itusaidie kuhakikisha hatupitii kitu kama hiki tena na kuhakikisha kuna chakula cha kutosha kwa kila mtu na dawa ili tusikabiliane na hili tena.

Artwork Story by Torea Frey

Words Fail

Written Story by Tonya Jones

Mama’s Burden: The Struggle of Childcare 

I’m a pragmatic person. I like to get to the root of why things are the way they are. When the  pandemic first hit, it caused me to think more about what it means to be a mother in our  society. Despite the rhetoric of sweet sentiments of motherhood (often dished out during  Mother’s Day), our country hasn’t really done a great job of supporting mothers. Particularly,  mothers of color (MOC). It was reported millions of women had to drop out of the workforce,  primarily due to childcare. The struggles around childcare has been the Achilles heel of most  working women. It was exacerbated during the lockdown, as caregivers found themselves  having to homeschool children, while they also worked from home. The ‘double duty’ of  mothers (household and outside work responsibilities), turned into a triple duty. In some cases,  quadruple duty, if elderly or more vulnerable family members became sick with the COVID-19  virus. Their care also became another task for mothers. Yet, with all these burdens being placed  on caregivers, there was limited societal support.

MOC were especially at a disadvantage. Ms. magazine discussed this in the article, “Women Are  Still Disproportionately Suffering from Pandemic Unemployment.” It is noted that childcare is  the overwhelming reason why mothers have not bounced back as quickly regarding work  opportunities. MOC are at the forefront of this issue. I’m a Black single mama. I spent the past  year unemployed. I had to leave my position, as the demand of return to the office became the  mantra of employers. It didn’t matter we were still in the throes of the second wave of the virus  (delta corona). It didn’t matter schools were still closing left and right due to students/teachers  getting sick, or staff shortages. It didn’t matter that many childcare places were closed or  limiting enrollment for safety.

I had no one to help with before/after school care. The burden was on me. It’s still on me. I still  have not found reliable childcare, almost three years later. Then the economic stress of not  working. The biggest fear was losing housing. I was lucky and qualified for pandemic housing  assistance. There was also some relief with the child tax credit checks. Of course, those were  snatched away, despite the fact it was proven it helped caregivers tremendously with day to day  living expenses. The pandemic years have not been kind to MOC.

I’m a lover of books. Recently, I read Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change, by Angela  Garbes. Garbes discussed how the pandemic impacted her as a mother. Overall, the book delves  into the challenges faced by mothers, whether married or not. As a MOC (Filipino-American),  Garbes gave voice to the unique barriers of women from her community and MOC outside of it.  Her overall argument was that our society needs to acknowledge that childrearing is work. That  MOC are the most economically exploited and there tends to be no respect for the essential  labor they provide.

The pandemic showed me we still have a long way to go in empowering and supporting  caregivers.

Written Story by Tom

It is it 

I had Covid twice

I was more dead than alive

pale gasp walk to grocery

cooties consuming me

life fading lungs

I dreamt of stairwells

It’s done, the grandmas are in graves

masks in storage, we move on

no

its to remember and be kept

hurt stories and names

I love you all, kneel and cry

in a field of tranquil flower

my cup of mourning is full

among the rest

on this bus ride

I don’t want to be alone

sit next to me

and we will hold behind masks

I come home from work at a convalescent home

people die constantly

stand here and hold a hand

as it grows cold

watch the beeps diminish

again, cease breath and slide

its not time yet to cry

we have to go on weaving

we held death and shoved on

a mourner, with frown and bouquet

look at us on the bus

a forest away with lilac of death among

we should come to each other

sit with, tell your grasp of the raft

 

a vanishing point

I went among prairies

to mourn better,

bring cloth for graves

on hard roads

I went away with seekers

slept rough and fought truth

where I wanted to walk was all water

when I wanted talk, a bus bench

so I willow in vanish sorrow

among hay feather glass birds

you died in Covid

and we leave that to here

arms draw inward

geese weave reeds

honk and make silly the morose

hands sift loss among moon wool

inward we mourn

as lamps close

Written Story by Terry Waiganjo

My pandemic experience was rough but super rewarding at the same time. The pandemic hit  when I was about to finish my masters degree. I had a part time job during the day and I would  study in the evenings. I was living alone. When the pandemic hit, I lost my job as a local NGO  researcher as the program I was working for lost its funding. At the same time, my school shut  down and we later resumed online classes despite my difficulty in learning virtually. My brother  and I decided to live together to cut costs as we both lost our jobs. We were far from any close  relative who could help us and we knew we didn’t want to move around and spread the virus  around.

What came out of this who experience was a text book of lessons, mistakes, and more lessons.

Technology played a crucial role in keeping people connected. While physical distancing was  necessary, virtual platforms allowed individuals and communities to stay in touch. Video calls,  online events, and social media became the primary means of communication for my brother  and I. We could even video call each other in the same house if one of us feared exposure to  COVID-19. Some friendships grew stronger as individuals reached out and provided support to  my brother and I during difficult times. We got a text from our landlord saying there was a  Jewish community in our neighborhood who were looking for families without an income or  food. They were to prepare several meals to last a week and deliver to our door. All we needed  to do is sign up online. This was amazing. We have delicious food, some we havd never tried,  and we ate for weeks. They even delivered when we had not finished the previous meals. The  sense of unity mostly from complete strangers shocked me most because I was previously  unaware of peoples kindness.

Self-discovery and personal growth was a huge lesson for me. I never knew I could be a home  body. I never likes spending anytime alone by myself let alone in my house. The pandemic  forced people me to adapt to new circumstances, leading to self-reflection and personal growth.  With more time spent alone or in isolation, I had the opportunity to delve deeper into my own  thoughts and emotions. I discovered new hobbies, developed resilience, and gained a greater  understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses.

I missed my home land Kenya even more in the pandemic. I was homesick almost every day.  Certain images, events, and sounds from the pandemic will likely stay with people for years to  come. The sight of empty streets, healthcare workers on the front lines, made me think about  how things were back home. My friends would tell me how things were almost normal at home.  There was curfew but parties would go on restaurants and bars were open, My friends were  having more fun it seemed and comparing that life with the emptiness of the streets of Oregon  will stay with me. Overall, the pandemic challenged individuals and communities in  unprecedented ways. While it undoubtedly caused hardship and disruption, it also highlighted  the resilience and adaptability of humanity. It showed me people can surprise you and show  support in the most amazing ways. I pray that unity and commitment to protect each other  never goes away.

Artwork Story by Sophia G-Halvorson

Medicine Spirit, ethereal being as essential as oxygen,

Your evil eye deflects the wafting danger lurking in the who-knows-where,

Almost every where.

Written Story by Anonymous

I am a nonbinary physician of color. I actually worked for the state governmental COVID 19 response here in Oregon, as my first job in this state.

I felt tremendous responsibility and pride in doing the work I did when I did it, because  there was an acknowledgement of community stake, partnership and investment with the way  we did our work. Blue state vs. Red Federal policy clashes somewhat helped with the ability to  do the work, above and beyond what the CDC was publishing in those days. We were in a group  of about 18 physicians and scientists writing policy and guidance from a variety of lived  experiences. I contributed heavily as a physician of color and made some of my first few friends  in Oregon working in POC predominant teams as the scientific liaison to state based community  engagement work. I was publicly shamed and ridiculed on the internet by trolls and those at  odds with the state’s policies that emphasized community action and non- pharmacologic  interventions to keep everyone safe from a new, scary and unpredictable threat. Yet through all  this, I persisted.

I ended up leaving my position in early 2022 when after more than a year of conflicting  policies, shifting narratives, the politicized CDC influence on state-based policy making was too  great and overrun by individualistic public health policies to an airborne pathogen. For  something as contagious as COVID-19 and with ongoing high mortality and even higher  morbidity, an individualistic approach just serves to marginalize the few- the disabled, the  elderly, the chronically ill, and really a lot of female bodied people without any of the above  conditions with the disproportionate and increasing toll of long Covid in all these populations.

Out of concern for my own safety and to avoid new disability, I have continued to avoid  getting infected. These days it has been getting increasingly difficult. I spent the 6+ years of my  medical training suppressing and coping with a moderately disabling condition to know how  terrible it was to feel even moderately disanled compared to peers. A friend even casually  mentioned one day that I was a 27 year old in a 40 year old body. Ableism exists and even worse  so for people in the health professions. I also don’t have the luxury to assuming that my family  with chronic illness including immunosuppression will survive repeat COVID infections without  worsening of their chronic conditions, or loss of their transplant organ.

Since COVID-19 continues to kill 1.5 times as many people as seasonal influenza, and  maim even more even in the times of Omicron sublineages, I don’t have the choice to ignore it.  Ignoring it could potentially risk my livelihood, my intellectual ability, including the brain that  got me through years of medical school, and the physical ability that allows me to enjoy life  without pain and restriction.

As an extrovert, my life has changed dramatically. Negatively? Not necessarily. I’m  selective with my friendships, I have stopped seeing a lot of my friends who have moved on  mostly because of dismissive or slighting comments, and unwillingness to make  accommodations to see me. My life is full of outdoor patios, and masked brief indoor outings  here in the states. I have traveled and continue to travel with my partner- albeit in lower  frequency than pre 2020 – in fit tested n95 respirators. I got to go to Japan to experience life in a collectivist society, even if for a brief while, earlier this year. My respirator kept me safe, as did  community masking through all kinds of crowded venues.

The costs of my life are that I know more, and care more about chronic illness and the  dangers of reinfection. Much more than my immediate family, my partner and oftentimes some  healthcare providers. That’s been a side effect of always staying appraised and up-to-date on  this virus and its accompanying set of illnesses. It’s a burdensome role, shared by many other  new branded COVID experts, even larger of a burden for those studying long COVID, those  studying end organ system and immunologic impacts, who then have to share this data with the  public. It’s a tremendous moral injury to be a caregiver of people and of populations in these  times.

I returned to clinical practice for a short while between policy changes, for a half day per  week from the summer of 2021 to 2022. I had a mostly substance use reduction based practice  and felt uncomfortable in increasing workloads of COVID-19 positive patient care that I knew  were upcoming especially with increasing community transmission. However, with societal  reopening and the end of the mask mandate on transit, my commute on crowded max trains  got increasingly uncomfortable, and especially so during times of high community transmission.  I left in-person clinical practice, a year after I had re-entered it. I feel increasingly reluctant to  return especially with the loss of universal masking in healthcare settings even more recently.  Unfortunately, this virus is not at a virulence that I can tolerate workplace exposures without  reasonable mitigation. Despite some personal and group based advocacy I engaged along with  others, mostly disabled, suffering from long COVID, or other chronic illness that puts them at  risk, we failed to achieve a stay on healthcare masking. I have been lucky enough to not require  frequent healthcare services for myself during this period of sustained viral infectivity and  severity combined with falling mitigations. But these compounded losses as a healthcare  provider, I will grieve for longer, and more deeply than some of my other social and community  losses where I could rebuild and forge new connections from the small but still strong  community of people who care about community caring, love, support and wellness.

The only times I feel concerned for my wellbeing and mental health are in the gaslighting  and minimizing comments by healthcare providers, and colleagues both in public health and  healthcare who have “moved on” and make comments to indicate disapproval or worse,  incredulity.

I knew, years ago, when I entered Healthcare as a profession, that this was a place for  healthy people, who “worked out”, who experienced no chronic illness, both physical or  behavioral, or none that they could show transparently. This has been highlighted by the  Oregon Medical Board’s decision to remove stigmatizing language on the attestation forms for  physician licensure around mental health and substance use. But cosmetic fixes like this don’t  dismantle the very real systemic ableism in healthcare that continue to persist. Some of the  same reasons for physician suicide I see replicated in the gaslighting, marginalization and  repeated dismissal of physicians who desire and have very real physical needs to avoid and  minimize infections and reinfection with COVID as a reason to avoid or reduce the chance of  disability. If our healthcare workforce, agencies and systems can’t even care for our own, who  will care for our patients?

Written Story by Shariff Abdullahaziz

As the days went by, the symptoms of Covid-19 started to take their toll on my body. The loss of  taste and smell persisted, making every meal a bland and uneventful experience. However, my  wife’s culinary skills and creativity shone through as she experimented with different flavors and  textures to make eating more enjoyable for me. She also researched home remedies and  natural therapies to help alleviate the discomfort and boost my immune system.

Despite the physical challenges, it was the mental and emotional aspect of battling Covid-19  that proved to be the most difficult. Isolation from my loved ones took a toll on my spirits.  Missing the warmth of family gatherings, the laughter of my children, and the support of friends  became a constant ache in my heart. But technology bridged the gap as we connected virtually,  sharing stories, jokes, and even shedding tears together.

During this time, I also grappled with anxiety and fear about the uncertain future. The financial  strain caused by my inability to work for several months due to the illness weighed heavily on  my mind. Debt accumulated, and the burden seemed insurmountable. However, I leaned on the  strength of my family, friends, and the support systems available in the community to navigate  through these challenges. They provided guidance, resources, and emotional support,  reminding me that I was not alone in this journey.

As the weeks passed, I witnessed the power of resilience and the miracles of the human body.  Gradually, my sense of taste and smell returned, bringing with it a renewed sense of hope and  gratitude. The fever subsided, and the persistent pain gradually faded away. Finally, after two  long weeks of isolation, I received the news I had been eagerly awaiting – a follow-up test  confirmed that I was Covid-free. It was a moment of pure joy and relief for me and my family.

However, the road to recovery didn’t end there. The impact of the virus lingered, both physically  and emotionally. Fatigue crept into my daily life, reminding me of the battle my body had  fought. Memory lapses and difficulty concentrating became unwelcome companions. I realized  that the aftermath of Covid-19 extended far beyond the period of illness, and I needed to  prioritize self-care and seek medical guidance to address these lingering effects.

With the support of healthcare professionals, I embarked on a journey of rehabilitation and  healing. Physical exercises and cognitive stimulation became part of my daily routine as I worked  to regain my strength, memory, and focus. Therapy sessions provided a safe space to express my  fears, anxieties, and challenges, enabling me to develop coping mechanisms and build  resilience.

Slowly but surely, life began to regain its rhythm. I returned to work, grateful for the opportunity  to contribute once again. However, the psychological trauma of the Covid-19 experience  remained with me. The fear of the unknown, the memories of isolation, and the fragility of life  continued to shape my perspective. But through it all, I held onto the lessons learned – the  importance of gratitude, resilience, and cherishing the moments we often take for granted.

Today, as I reflect on my journey, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the unwavering support of my family, the dedication of healthcare professionals, and the resilience  of the human spirit. The scars of the past may still be visible, but they serve as a reminder of the  strength and courage it took to overcome the challenges that Covid-19 presented.

In this new chapter of life, I strive to live each day with renewed purpose, cherishing the simple  joys, and never taking the gift of health for granted. The memories of hardship and triumph will forever be etched in my heart, serving as a constant reminder of the indomitable spirit

Written Story by Seth

Embracing Love Across Boundaries

My name is Seth, and amidst the chaos and uncertainty of a global pandemic, I experienced a profound journey into fatherhood. It was during these trying times that my wife, Grace, and I welcomed our first baby girl, Galaxy, into the world. Little did we know that the curfew imposed by the circumstances would prevent our family members, including my own parents, from being physically present to witness this precious moment.

As the day approached, anxiety mingled with excitement in my heart. The joy of becoming a father was overwhelming, but a sense of sadness seeped in as well. I longed for my parents to be by our side, to shower their love upon their granddaughter and share in the joyous occasion. Yet, due to the curfew restrictions, their presence seemed like a distant dream.

Within the walls of the hospital, I held Grace’s hand tightly, providing her with the comfort and support she needed during labor. As our daughter, Galaxy, came into this world, a wave of emotions washed over me. The absence of our families was deeply felt, but I couldn’t let despair cloud this precious moment. With the help of modern technology, we connected with our parents through video calls, sharing the incredible sight of Galaxy’s arrival. Their faces lit up with pure love and pride, albeit through the screen. Tears of joy mingled with longing as we witnessed their overwhelming emotions from afar.

In the days that followed, I witnessed Grace’s strength and resilience as she embraced motherhood with grace. Together, we navigated the sleepless nights and celebrated every milestone our little Galaxy reached. Yet, a part of me yearned for the presence of my own parents, for their wisdom and guidance during this new chapter of our lives.

The curfew imposed by the pandemic became an unexpected catalyst for personal growth. I delved into books on fatherhood, seeking solace and insights that would help me become the best parent I could be.

However, the desire to introduce Galaxy to her grandparents remained a constant ache in my heart. Imagining their arms wrapped around her, showering her with love, became a bittersweet solace during quiet moments.

As the weeks turned into months, the curfew gradually eased, allowing careful visits from loved ones. The day finally arrived when my parents, masks in place and hearts overflowing with love, entered our home. Tears of joy streamed down our faces as they cradled their granddaughter, Galaxy, for the first time, their touch conveying a lifetime of affection and adoration. In that beautiful moment, the distance and longing of the past months melted away, replaced by an unbreakable bond that defied physical separation.

Looking at Galaxy, surrounded by the love and warmth of her grandparents, I understood that our connection had been forged in the face of adversity. The memories of those early days, marked by solitude and longing, would forever remind us of the power of love and the resilience of family bonds.

As I watched my little Galaxy grow, I marveled at the strength of our family’s love and how it had persevered despite the challenges we faced. Our reunion was not just a celebration of physical presence but a testament to the indomitable spirit of love and connection that transcends boundaries.

Galaxy, with her radiant smile and curious eyes, became a beacon of hope and resilience in our lives. The times when her grandparents couldn’t hold her physically were replaced by countless video calls and virtual storytelling sessions, ensuring that the bond between them remained unbreakable.

And so, as I held Galaxy close, I knew that her journey into this world was imbued with a unique story.

As conclusion, the pandemic has tested our resilience and redefined our priorities. Through adversity, we have learned the value of human connection, adaptability, and compassion. As we move forward, we carry the lessons learned and a collective determination to create a better future.

Audio Story by Lukulambo

English Translation

I had Corona, for those of you who do not understand what Corona is. I myself actually suffered from this Corona. In fact I prayed to God that Corona never comes back again. Yes, I really suffered and other people did as well. Two years without work, I was really in bad shape. People could not do anything because everywhere was closed and kids could not go to school .This is not a normal disease, this is something that scares the whole world. To date, you hear the word Corona and you want to run away, but I thank God. For me I remember coughing so much to the point where my ribs hurt. It made us also fearful and afraid of each other. Whenever you would see or hear someone coughing you wanted to run away. I remember companies were closed. It was not normal nor was it a joke. We suffered so much, people died and we do not wish it on anybody. We suffered a lot as a family and we had some people who died. We pray to God that it does not come back, because it’s something that is making the world suffer so much. There was no going out, kids could not play as usual, you could not go shopping, you could not just drive. I have never been so scared in my life. We need to pray to God that it does not come back. People were coughing so much that whenever you saw someone you wanted to run away. In fact, Malaria is even better. All jobs in America stopped, if anybody tells me that there is Corona again, we all would go away, and other jobs would never come back for years.

Swahili Transcription

Nilikuwa na Corona, kwa wale ambao hamuelewi Corona ni nini. Mimi mwenyewe niliteseka na hii Corona. Kwa kweli nilimwomba Mungu kwamba Corona isirudi tena. Ndiyo, niliteseka sana na watu wengine pia walifanya hivyo. Miaka miwili bila kazi, nilikuwa katika hali mbaya sana. Watu hawakuweza kufanya chochote kwa sababu kila mahali pamefungwa na watoto hawakuweza kwenda shule .Huu sio ugonjwa wa kawaida, hili ni jambo ambalo linatisha dunia nzima. Hadi leo, unasikia neno Corona na unataka kukimbia, lakini namshukuru Mungu. Kwangu nakumbuka nilikohoa sana hadi mbavu zinaniuma. Ilitufanya sisi pia kuogopana na kuogopana. Wakati wowote ungeona au kusikia mtu akikohoa ulitaka kukimbia. Nakumbuka makampuni yalifungwa. Haikuwa kawaida wala haikuwa mzaha. Tuliteseka sana, watu walikufa na hatutaki mtu yeyote. Tuliteseka sana kama familia na tulikuwa na watu fulani waliokufa. Tunaomba Mungu isirudi, maana ni jambo linaloifanya dunia kuteseka sana. Hakukuwa na kwenda nje, watoto hawakuweza kucheza kama kawaida, haungeweza kwenda ununuzi, haungeweza kuendesha gari tu. Sijawahi kuogopa sana maishani mwangu. Tunapaswa kuomba kwa Mungu ili isirudi. Watu walikuwa wakikohoa sana hata ukimuona mtu ulitaka kukimbia. Kwa kweli, Malaria ni bora zaidi. Kazi zote Amerika zilisimamishwa, ikiwa mtu yeyote ataniambia kuwa kuna Corona tena, sote tungeenda, na kazi zingine hazitarudi kwa miaka. mtu yeyote ataniambia kuwa kuna Corona tena, sote tungeenda, na kazi zingine hazitarudi kwa miaka.