Some old habits have been unlearned and new ones learned.
By Christine Kyomukama
Coronavirus (COVID-19) started in Wuhan - China in the late 2019 and spread globally. So many people have lost their lives due to the pandemic. It has affected everyone around the globe, in both developed and developing countries alike. The world has registered high mortality rates of Covid-19 victims. This pandemic has been a game-changer in many aspects. It has become a global eye-opener that could enable the affected to manage similar occurrences in future more effectively and efficiently. There has been a socio-economic and political effect due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So many losses have been registered in all sectors of tourism, education, transport, farming, politics, worship, entertainment among others. "Nature, when she adds difficulties, she adds brains", Tim Hansel.
According to Thomas J. Watson, Sr, "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything". Everything bad has a good side to it and experience is the best teacher, as the finest steel has to go through the hottest fire. This article focuses at how the pandemic has been a game-changer, a leveller and an eye-opener in the lives of many people across the globe. We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. "Pain is inevitable but misery is optional", Richard Denny.
In the wake of the pandemic, local industries have been beefed up especially in the production of essentials for instance sanitizers, face masks, ventilators and more innovations. This has led and will continue to improve our gross domestic product (GDP) and increasing job opportunities in so doing. This has taught us that if the local industries can be revamped with the support of government, they can be able to produce whatever they have been importing.
The losses that have been incurred by small scale industries as a result of lack of domestic market have been an eye-opener to make an improvement in value addition and preservation. If local farmers can add value to their products, they can be preserved for a longer period of time. This would enable farmers make more profits. This would be an assurance of food security and farmers would not have to sell their products cheaply just to get rid of them yet they incur a lot of costs when growing them. This is the time government can also give incentives to farmers by giving them credit to improve their products. These products can be exported and not wasted especially during a time like this when there is a pandemic yet people will still need food after the crisis. According to Plato, "the beginning is the most important part of the work".
E-business is another aspect that had not been exploited maximally. One can use e-banking, e-commerce, marketing of products which are a better option in business. Marketing and clearing of goods can be done online.
Another economic aspect that had not been fully put to use is mobile marketing. There has been more innovation by door to door deliveries of goods and services. So many people got out of business and lost clients due to lack of mobile marketing skills. This keeps them in business even in times of a crisis. This crisis has taught us that if clients can't move to get a service, then the service providers should move to the clients to offer services. This is better especially if it's combined with e-business.
Due to the pandemic control guidelines, some businesses have been shut down leading to high levels of unemployment, and those which have survived, have not performed to the maximum. This, therefore, calls for multi-tasking so as to survive in case a similar situation occurs in future.
There has not been a saving culture to most of the employees and business owners, working for hand to mouth. Financial discipline is another aspect learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic. We must plan to save and invest in income-generating activities. Socrates states that"Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty." The crisis has proven that one can survive without spending expensively, for instance, foreign trips and recreation. According to Aristotle, "Happiness depends upon ourselves". It has taught us to live within our means because most of the expenditures people incur are not essential.
Little effort has been put on e-learning and homeschooling. During the pandemic, there has been home study by use of television, radio and other media though there is still a lot to desire that can be improved. Nelson Mandela once stated, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world". E-learning has also been used by a few amidst some challenges that could be ironed out. The government and academic bodies can invest in free internet to education centers and all citizens so that most activities are done electronically.
In the health sector, the pandemic has given health workers and specialists more relevance in society because they have been at the front line of the whole crisis. It's time for the government to support and improve their livelihoods through motivation if they have to do their work better. The health facilities need to be prioritized as well. This can be done with advanced health equipment, employ more health workers, build more hospitals, equip them and generally make the sector more life-saving than otherwise. This will enable us to handle other health challenges.
Other practices have been emphasized as a way of controlling the pandemic. Sanitation was emphasized during the pandemic period. The public was asked to adhere to the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) washing hands among others. Many people started doing physical exercises from home to keep fit. This was an eye-opener to remain safe and healthy even after the pandemic. The crisis didn't favor any category of people as everyone was required to follow the same directives to fight the spread of the virus.
It has been noticed that most places of worship have been depending on their congregation for survival. Self-sustainability in terms of food security and income-generating projects will reduce financial dependency. This will create self-reliance and job opportunities for many. More to that, this pandemic has been an eye-opener for families to congregate and hold prayers at home. Families have appreciated praying together and this should continue even after the pandemic. A family that prays together stays together.
In the entertainment world, the pandemic proved that you can still earn money through internet by posting your works, concerts, profile, music and anything music and entertainment related. The pandemic period showed that we can still get informed and entertained digitally on television and all social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram among others. We have to go digital if we have to compete for audience with the rest of the world as well as receiving the information we need.
Socially, the pandemic has shown that we can do without social gatherings like weddings, political rallies, and birthday parties, funeral gatherings, conferences and workshops. For example, scientific weddings and burial ceremonies have been successfully held and this can be upheld as it is economical and time-saving. We can make good use of the internet and only have physical gatherings with a few people who are close to us. The crisis has also shown that family unity and togetherness is essential. People have got an opportunity to check on one another using social media and to make sure that everyone in their circle is safe. For some cultural and social practices like handshaking, hugging among others which can spread diseases can be avoided because there are other infections that can be spread in the same way such as Cholera, Typhoid and Ebola. It is now time to observe safety and hygiene without feeling guilty of cultural practices.
Some old habits have been unlearned and new ones learned. For instance, those who used to go to physical fitness centers can as well do it at home in case they fail to make it there. Physical exercises can be made from home as one attains the health benefits while saving money and time. The pandemic has created an opportunity for families to bond, learn some new life skills like bakery, knitting, and farming among others that can help someone improve on their welfare. "The illiterates of the 21st century are not necessarily those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn." Elliot.
Politically, we have seen people with different political ideologies be united in the fight against the pandemic alongside other vices that arose. It showed unity in diversity to fight a common enemy. This was a good gesture that should be upheld even in future. Socrates stated that"Fame is the perfume of heroic deeds". For the first time, all political parties came together to support and fight against the spread of the virus by donating essential goods to the needy, identifying corruption scandals and coming to a common stand. According to John F.Kennedy, "Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us."
Citizens always respect and follow directives from their leaders especially the president. According to Mark Sanborn, "Every man is the architect of his fortune". A nation either survives or perishes by the character and actions of its leaders. Such a crisis proved how shrewd, ready and supportive leaders are for their citizens. In this case, the president of Uganda gained more relevance and fame from the public due to the measures put in place to fight against the spread of Covid-19.
Oprah Winfrey stated, "There is no victory at bargain basement prices". We can all put aside our misery from Covid-19 effects and look at it as game-changer, an eye opener and a great lesson for all of us to start afresh, work harder and live better lives.
The writer is a Ugandan educationist for Linguistics (French Department)