Anna is one of our volunteers in our team “The Rights of Children and Young People”. She currently lives in Hamburg but is originally from Chile. She tells us about how she perceives the pandemic between her origins and her current home.

Author: Anna Hanke, Hamburg, Chile, and Covid-19 – Challenges in times of a pandemic

Hamburg, Chile, and Covid-19 – Challenges in times of a pandemic  

Undoubtedly the Coronavirus has impacted us all. The speed with which our lives changed from one day to the next forced us to adapt and assume that we would begin to live what we now call the “new normal,” with half-faces, covered with masks, and with distance as the new social norm.

In my case, the pandemic surprised me in my first six months living in a new country, adding a new element of uncertainty to the life project I had started after my move from Chile to Hamburg. Like many other people, I saw that the future was becoming somewhat cloudy, and I was forced to rethink my plans. The shared experience we lived through started showing its different sides. As it happened to me, the difficulty of traveling increased the great distance that already separated me from my family, without knowing when I would be able to see them again. The job search became a challenge, and the isolation to which we were forced made more evident the loneliness experienced when living in a country that is not your own.

Although the pandemic has hindered my integration process in a new country, it is proper to recognize that having faced it in a country like Germany is a privilege. And it is inevitable to compare the situation with other countries, and in my case, with Chile.

The situation in Chile, which, fortunately, has not reached catastrophic states, made evident the vulnerability of so many people and families who, with the arrival of Covid-19, found themselves completely helpless and deepen the enormous inequality gap that exists in the country. Many people who, for example, depend on informal commerce lost their source of income during the total quarantine decreed by the Government and faced the difficulty of how they were going to feed their families. On the other hand, schools and universities’ closure left thousands of students without education who do not have the resources to have computers and a stable internet connection to access their educational content.

Despite it being a globally shared experience, the pandemic has made us focus on our own difficulties, which are not few. Almost everyone we know is facing a challenge. Maybe because they can’t see their families or because the uncertainty of this time affects their mental health. But we must also recognize that, unfortunately, Chile’s situation described above repeats itself in other parts of the world. Living the pandemic in Germany, but at the same time seeing the reality in Chile, has made me reflect on how we also have to be aware of what is happening outside our doors -and countries- and take charge of the challenges that we as a society are living. In this sense, I believe we as young people have an essential role in rebuilding what we’ve lost in this time. Maybe through the research of new vaccines, new ways to improve online education, or new business models that protect the most vulnerable. Many new youth-led movements prove that this and the next generations have the energy, the tireless search for the new, the determination and creativity to face the issues Covid-19 has brought.