CommunityMore good news you need about Covid-19

As many parts of the world are beginning to ease the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, there is a steady flow of evidence that although Covid-19 is keeping us apart, it is also bringing us together in myriad ways. Breaking fast with loved ones is a special time but for one group of volunteers in Fujairah, iftar is postponed until after they have assembled, packed and delivered 250 meals to low-income families...
Anna Pukas Anna PukasMay 20, 202013 min
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As many parts of the world are beginning to ease the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, there is a steady flow of evidence that although Covid-19 is keeping us apart, it is also bringing us together in myriad ways.

  • Breaking fast with loved ones is a special time but for one group of volunteers in Fujairah, iftar is postponed until after they have assembled, packed and delivered 250 meals to low-income families and laborers throughout the emirate. The Sawaed Al Emarat Volunteering Association has nearly 500 members who work in rotating groups of 12 to minimize risk of infection. “The time I spend packing and distributing meals is meaningful and precious,” says volunteer Ali Al Tunaiji, 28.

  • Chefs at Des Pardes restaurant in Oud Metha, Dubai, are working as hard as ever, cooking meals for 600 customers. But none of them pays a dirham. Since the lockdown began, the restaurant, which serves traditional Pakistani food, has donated more than 7,000 free meals to taxi drivers, laborers and families in need, as well as stocking two fridges where anyone who needs to can help themselves to food.

  • Captain Tom Moore is not the only heroic centenarian. British Muslim Dabirul Islam Choudhry has raised £90,000 (Dh410,000) for Ramadan Family Commitment, a charity set up by a Bangladeshi television channel to help victims of the virus in both Bangladesh and Britain. Like Captain Tom, Choudhry did it by walking laps of his 80-meter yard in east London – and he did while fasting. Born on January 1, 1920, in what was then British Assam, Choudhry came to the UK as a student in 1957. The only problem with his walking is getting him to stop, says his son, but Choudhry declares he feels “very good, excellent.”

  • Every day at 2pm, nine-year -old Harry Selley is ready with his disco lights, microphone and even a smoke machine to host his daily disco for kids on Facebook and Youtube from his home in Truro in Cornwall, south-west England. DJ Harry clocks up thousands of views from fans as far afield as Abu Dhabi, Cape Town and Morocco. Harry is autistic and the lack of routine during lockdown is problematic for him but the disco gives him focus, says his father, Martyn. “He puts on his multi-colored hat and becomes a different person, dancing and singing for children around the world.”

  • Two Irish boys are producing face masks with just a 3D printer and a stack of laminating pouches. Conor and Daire Jean, aged 14 and 11, spend up to 15 hours a day churning out much-needed protective visors for local hospitals from their home in Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland. They have even come up with new design features for doctors and nurses who wear the visors on top of glasses or goggles.

  • Medical staff working in virus wards are not allowed into other parts of the hospital, including the staff canteen, which makes it difficult for them to get meals during their long shifts. When friends Floris ten Nijenhuuis and Chloe Hall heard about this from a doctor friend, they launched Furlough Foodies London. They now have 350 volunteers (people furloughed from their jobs, like themselves) shopping for ingredients, cooking and delivering 2,200 meals a week to 100 NHS staff in more than 15 hospitals in the London area.

  • While the pandemic has led to unprecedented restrictions for billions of people, it has actually opened up the world for many people with disabilities. In the physical world, accessing entertainment, work and a social life can be difficult and even impossible for people of determination. But those restrictions don’t apply in the virtual world, meaning many have been able to tour museums, take courses, “attend” theater performances, concerts and even parties not only locally but around the world. Even access to healthcare has opened up, with increasing numbers of doctors offering consultation online or via Skype.

  • Caleb Carr from Troutman, North Carolina, is autistic and obsessed with Jeeps. His mother, Heather, put out an appeal for any Jeep owners to drive past their house to give Caleb a treat for his eight birthday on April 30. She was hoping just one Jeep driver might respond. Instead, 300 did, giving Caleb a huge birthday thrill.

  • Charandeep Singh from Glasgow set up The Sikh Food Bank on March 21, just days before Scotland was placed on lockdown. The band of volunteers has now delivered more than 20,000 parcels of food, toiletries and other necessities around four large Scottish cities to anyone who needs help, including homeless shelters, the elderly and key workers. They even include a weekly treat, such as a chocolate egg for Easter or a special curry for the recent Sikh festival of Vaisakhi. And although they stick to social distancing rules, the delivery volunteers always make sure they give a cheery wave and a smile through the window “as human intersection is so important,” says Singh.

  • Animal Pad, a non-profit based in San Diego, rescued more dogs in March and April than in the whole of 2019. But it also doubled the number of volunteers and facilitated more adoptions during the same period than the whole of last year, too.

  • In Krabi, Thailand, sanitation staff liven up their shifts by dressing up as superheroes while disinfecting the streets.

  • Hollywood actor and director John Krasinski staged an online graduation ceremony for students all over the world who are missing out on this customary rite of passage. Some students also got an additional surprise when celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg popped up on their screens to answer their questions and offer career advice.

  • The UK’s biggest motor insurance company, Admiral, is giving back £110million (Dh501 million) to policy-holders who cannot use their cars. That’s £25 for each car and van that was covered as of April 20. Refunds should be paid by the end of May.

  • A New York city landlord is waiving rent for a pizzeria that’s feeding doctors and nurses

  • Chalk pictures have been brightening up the streets for weeks but in Louisville, Kentucky in the US, stones and rocks painted with encouraging messages like “You got this” or simply “Shine” are now popping up in gardens, tucked away amid tree roots or in pavement nooks.

  • Virtual choirs have definitely become a thing during the pandemic, but the concept reached a new level when singers and musicians from 18 countries got together virtually to record With A Little Help From My Friends.

Anna Pukas

Anna Pukas

Anna Pukas has reported from all over the world as a foreign correspondent for British media. She is now an editor based in Abu Dhabi.

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