Today is our first report from Christina from South Africa, where she is talking on a very personal way about her impressions of the last weeks before the corona lockdown startet. Thank you very much for your insights Christina – Your wildes-afrika.de Team
Contrary to popular belief my country South Africa has pulled together quite surprisingly the past few months. A small movement amongst the nation was slowly gaining momentum by starting a hashtag called #imstaying.
This saw great growth in the weeks leading up to my return.
Myself and a colleague was on a 6 week 3 country sales trip promoting Africa and the tours we offer as a leading African operator. We were in America at the time when Corona virus really started getting serious media attention.
Filled by the hype of travelling a new destination and doing multiple shows, the real reality of what was unfolding did not really sink into our conscious.
When we arrived in Canada reports of what has been happening truly started to waken the reality that we are facing a situation that could impact our sales trip. Again our limited knowledge revealed the ignorance of what we deemed a difficult situation. Our next destination was Germany where we were ready to attend our much anticipated annual show the ITB Berlin. By now media and officials were debating the likelihood of whether this event would continue. Mixed feelings were looming one of disappointment as our very long journey and financial investment was now potentially vulnerable. The other a fear that we are at risk for the next 14days before returning back home.
Back home the news of the virus was a distant topic and a reality not affecting the daily lives of my fellow South Africans.
The next few days we continued to Germany even though our show was cancelled and kept our interactions minimal. Our fears grew daily as media and news started to spread the fears of this reality like wildfire. Keeping calm and staying cool headed was my daily goal whilst still trying to do my job.
We arrived home the Monday and the 6 weeks away felt like I was gone a lifetime.
I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. The crisis now starting becoming headline news in SA alongside the humouress comments and GIFS on social media. The South African community were now confused by what they were being told. One view was that this crisis was being blown out of proportion and that people are overreacting.
The other was that you should distance yourself after stocking up your house with tons of groceries. The toilet paper joke did its rounds daily and other countries reaction to this situation was amusing the nation. I was in the middle with mixed feelings.
After consulting with the owner of Nomad my colleague and I decided to self isolate for 14days and avoid returning to office.
I was so disappointed as I missed my colleagues but I saw the bigger picture. A part of me was slightly annoyed as the thought that I could be a carrier seemed far fetched to me. Little did I know that weeks later that decision could have been the best thing I could have done.
It was not even 48hours and the entire country started to react in the exact same manner as the rest of the world. Everyone coming from high risk areas were told to self isolate. Companies were slowly starting to make arrangements for staff to work from home.
Daily reports starting streaming in.
South Africans were getting serious about this. Becoming more and more vocal about this situation. This problem now hit our shores and we had to make sure we were ready. I was eagerly awaiting the end of my isolation so I could see my Nomad family and be there to support my teams.
My husband and I sat eagerly awaiting the presidents speech the night before my return back to office. Multiple emotions ran through me and I was torn as to what I hoped I would hear. Selfishly I wanted things to go back to normal and simultaneously I wanted this situation addressed. It’s funny how in moments of crisis we see our own true colors revealed. The social media reports, my families comments and colleagues opinions all created a mixed bag of emotions.
But the most surprising and humbling part is what unfolded the past week and this is my truth.
Strange emotions and mixed feelings about how to approach the coming weeks. Partly influenced by media reports and also struggling with the internal fears of what could happen. Reading the reports of what is happening in companies and seeing the devastating stats of the damage that’s unfolding and countless households affected.
A very doom and gloom period. For a person like me that honestly never watches the news I found myself entangled in a web of concerns and fears. Very much to my surprise I returned to a office where things were calm and collected. A refreshing sight.
The fears and whirlwind storms from outside surrounding us had no impact on how we dealt with things. In the midst of all this uncertainty I never felt more secure.
My office team and mentor Alex Rutherford has been the most stable element in this crazy period. Showing a cool and calm approach. Acting swiftly. No mess no fuss attitude. Alex showing no concern for his own personal interests and fully devoted on the survival of the rest of us. Focusing on how we can see this thing through.
For the first time in a while I was now part of that goal and self preservation was something of the past.
We were working on finding solutions with limited knowledge on what the future had in store. The rumours of a lockdown were circling and this scenario was overwhelming people. People we thought of as organized and all together were acting irrational, behaving bizarrely strange. We could only put it as strange times. Yet our team and our leader was mentoring, providing guidance and had a plan in place.
I felt blessed, humbled, grateful and completely shocked at the same time of what was unfolding around me.
Job losses, business closures, irrational behavior. Some would say premature others say precautionary. I had no words. I was saddened by the reality that lives will be taken, households will be crushed and peoples principles will be out the door.
But then our president gave a speech that blew our socks off. He took immediate action. His swift decisions and determined plans for our country united us all.
The lockdown was announced not much later and for some reason I was totally OK. Having planned for this we as a team and my household were ready. Schedules in place, cupboards stocked and game plan ready. Having anticipated the inevitable we were ready ahead of the rest.
We watched in awe as our owner spoke to us delivering a message of hope and reassuring us that we as team will be fine. Our jobs were safe and we all still have salaries. I realized I am one of few that would return home that night with the same feedback. But also understood that this would be the reality across the globe. Suffering would be unavoidable.
It has been an eye opening week folks. With getting out of isolation and finally seeing my Nomad Adventure Tours – Africa family to being informed about lockdown. Not the welcome home I hoped for.
As I walk the hallways of our office building I see smiles and hear positive banter. A very pleasant sight considering the turmoil surrounding us. For us nothing has changed. It’s business as usual. Everyone is still around(no retrenchments) and everyone is helping one another get the job done. No fear. Why?Because we know we are taken care of and are in good hands. These people made of guts and steel are the true warriors alongside me. I count myself fortunate to witness the beauty of what has unfolded during this process. A confirmation that I am exactly where I should be. I’m home.
People taking hands and giving what they can.
South Africans speaking up and being responsible. Suppliers going above and beyond. Staff taking on new roles. Everyone devoted to one goal.
This journey although tough has united all the colours of our nation, have brought partnership back into the front lines, shown creativity, out of the box thinking and sincerity in its most beautiful form.
I left my office today. Ready for the lockdown. Almost slightly eager to see what we will become after this dust has settled. An awakening of a new company, a new country because it’s people have grown leaps and bounds and are loyal as ever to what we do. I’m excited to see us take the country forward and not let fear overwhelm but have hope shine through and be a light in the dark times.
See you on the other side. It’s going to be a tough road but I’m so ready for the challenge. #imstaying South Africa