The new pandemic has us glued in front of our TV watching the news, concerning about our loved ones that are vulnerable, and adapting to major changes in our lives, from schools closing to having to isolate ourselves. People are worried, but not sure what they can do to help as individuals. That is why I decided to compile a list of simple things you can do to help your community during these hard times.
You’re washing your hands. You’re practicing social distancing. But, in addition to taking all the crucial safety steps for yourself and your family, what can you do to help the individuals and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
1. If you can, donate to nonprofits helping to respond to COVID-19 – and your other favorite causes as well
I realize that in the face of this uncertainty, with most us having our jobs on the line and generally being a poor country, we can’t actually afford to donate, but those that are in a financial position to do so, you should consider making a donation to directly help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Donors can make the greatest difference by supporting medical needs in Macedonia and internationally as well as by supporting organizations that are serving vulnerable populations who will be most affected by the virus’ spread and its impact on the economy.
Donating or helping, even in a small way can make a huge difference. For example, an atelier in Tetovo (shout-out to Kreshnike Iljazi Fashion) made 200 masks and handed them out for free to the citizens. You could also start a campaign on social media for donations. That’s what my university professor Hasim Deari did by creating the hashtags: #TëNdihmojmëKamarierëtTonë #TëNdihmojmëNevojtarëtTonë #TëNdihmojmëKafeteritëTona #TëNdihmojmëBiznesetTona for donations to the local restaurants or bars of your choice since the service industry is the hardest hit at the moment.
But donating doesn’t always mean you have to donate money though. You could also ‘donate’ your time and skills by volunteering. Volunteer for organizations that are providing crucial services in your community. Reach out to local charities and ask how you can best support them with your time, keeping safety in mind. You can also search online for volunteer opportunities in your area. Things that you can do safely from home in support of a nonprofit’s mission could include everything from assisting their marketing efforts or grant writing to serving as a crisis counselor on a hotline service.
2. Check-in on elderly neighbors, especially if they live alone
Text or call your neighbors (especially elderly neighbors) to make sure they’re doing okay. If you feel comfortable going out, consider knocking on their door and check if there is anything that they need like a run to the market for groceries or other supplies. You can also offer to bring them meals several times a week — you can arrange to leave them outside their house so you don’t risk spreading germs.
3. Use your voice to combat misinformation online or to advocate for the individuals and organizations that need our help
Because we live in a digital age, news about the coronavirus and misinformation about the outbreak is spreading nearly as fast as the virus itself. Fake tips on how to prevent or even cure coronavirus have gone viral and so have hoaxes aimed at spreading confusion. After the initial outbreak of COVID-19, conspiracy theories and misinformation emerged online regarding the origin, scale, and various other aspects of the disease. Get informed from trusted sources like the World Health Organization, local health authorities (Ministry of Health of N. Macedonia), or your doctor/hospital. That way you can be a voice for how people can help each other in this time of social distancing while staying safe. Remind people to support the charities they care about. Share local volunteering opportunities and other ways of how people can help those impacted. As you’re learning about how people are being affected and what the needs are, share that information—and tell people what you are doing to make a difference. Witting your example will help those in your network to realize that they can take action too.
Author: Sihana Etemi, a Digital Marketing Assistant at INVK and a Mladiinfo volunteer. She is an information junkie with a passion for technology and a penchant for quick wit. When Sihana isn’t glued to a computer screen, she spends time going out with friends, learning French, and reading astronomy books.
Editor: Tomica Stojanovikj