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Finding Community in the times of COVID-19

Budd & I (Rajesh) have been thinking of our communities as we face the serious COVID-19 pandemic around the world. This situation is historically unique in that each of our countries and communities are being impacted. Fear of the unknown and serious restrictions on our everyday life are causing panic, confusion and stress to us, our loved ones and social/professional networks. We send you and your loved ones our love, and solidarity.

Please be safe; maintain physical distance, but remain close to the hearts of your loved ones. Social distancing is a false category; physical distance yes, but social closeness, intimacy and solidarity. Mercifully, the new technology provides us the means to do so.  

While we connect with you all, may we remind you that many millions in our neighbourhoods do not have the possibility of ‘working from home’ and cannot maintain ‘physical distancing’ required for isolation because they are homeless or live in over-crowded homes.

These times pose a new calling for those of us working in the space of community-based participatory research. As we have been dedicating our personal & professional lives to promote & nurture ‘participation for empowerment’ for the marginalised through a partnership approach towards research, can we draw some attention to their needs for safety, security and food in the times of Corona

Furthermore, we, as individuals, along with our families are facing disruptions to our everyday normal life; the new normal is ‘lockdown’, associated with fear of the unknown. With the uncertainty looming over our lives, perhaps each one of us can start by documenting our own responses and coping mechanisms to this new reality? How are our partners, children, grand-children and the elderly in our communities feeling and coping? How is the new normal routine affecting our mental and physical health? And, what human ingenuity and creativity is being exercised in coping with the new realities in everyday life?   

These experiences may be difficult and complex for us to put in words but art is one medium of expression that can be relied on in times like these. Through art, whether it be through dance, theatre, poetry, paintings, music or quilting, we can express our feelings and observations of how the lives of people around us are evolving through it and communicate with one another.

We implore you to share your stories with us, so that we feel connected, stronger, loved and empowered.   
Let us communicate as we stay safe.

In solidarity,  
Dr. Budd Hall & Dr. Rajesh Tandon
Co-chairs, UNESCO Chair in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education

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