If time is truly money then most of us should be millionaires at the end of this period. The past week I found myself in possession of a couple thousand, allowing me to lavishly indulge in social media including LinkedIn. LinkedIn is like the black sheep of the socials. It’s that place you go to once in a while to feel professional and find some inspiration. At times, it goes the other way, you feel terrified by the little progress you are making in your career because people are writing their dissertations, getting awards, building robots and meeting Nobel Prize winners. And your only accomplishment is that you have shown up to work the entire month, making you eligible for a full salary. Luckily for me, I experienced the former and saw the poster to a Webinar.
Titled “Hook Me Up”, the theme was Youth Engagement in COVID 19, organized by the Kenya Student and Novice Nurses Association. Two hours later, I was hungry, for both food and just to get on the ground and sprint. I had gained some vitality. Isn’t it just refreshing to have a discussion with like-minded people. Dr. Catherine Hannaway, the first panelist, highlighted the need for keeping safe, educating our communities, connecting with others, advocacy and preparedness for a possible second wave of COVID 19. She also gave a bit of perspective to the role of nurses at this time. “COVID 19 has raised the profile of nursing like a storm”, said Hannaway. This is a sentiment that I have held as well, given that it is The Year of Nursing and Midwifery.
Mr. Roy Telewa, the next speaker emphasized that the youth should give give and give during this time. According to him, fighting the pandemic is our calling as a generation, just like our forefathers were called to fight the colonialists. This message went hand in hand with that of Mr. Daniel Juma, who believes that innovation is the solution. Interestingly, he appears to be passionate about homegrown solutions, suggesting that maybe COVID can be cured by herbs. He also suggested using what you have. For instance, if you lack soap or sanitizers, maybe salty water can suffice. I really want to believe Mr. Juma. Growing up Mwarubaini cured everything. Thank God for western medicine because the taste of that herb, appalling!
Ms. Atieno Jalang’o, the final speaker, presented a topic on Depression. It is clear as day that COVID 19 will greatly impact mental health. Obvious reasons are social isolation and the feelings of uncertainty. But have we thought about people with other preexisting illnesses who have no access to the care they need. What about alcohol and substance abusers who either have too much access or no access. An expert herself, she advised that everyone should be on the watch out for the slightest symptoms of anxiety or depression and most importantly, seek help as soon as possible. Otherwise, establish a routine, learn new skills, eat healthy, exercise and keep away from news.
Looking back, this was very good use of some of the cash I’ve accrued. While the anthem has been ‘when things go back to normal’ Hannaway and Jalang’o suggested that there may be no normal to go back to. Or instead, it might take longer than we have planned for. The hope is that we conquer and overcome the virus, but the inverse is also a possibility with 50% probability. To me, those are not good odds. It’s time for a paradigm shift. As Benjamin Disraeli put it, “I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best”.