Solidarity and care in the middle of this pandemic

Dear GAIA members,

Given the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19 pandemic, the GAIA coordination team wants to let you know that we care greatly about your safety and we are monitoring the situation as best we can. We have taken several precautionary measures to protect the health of staff, members and our loved ones, such as cancelling large gatherings, shifting to virtual meetings, closing our offices and encouraging work-from-home arrangements.

We hope you and your loved ones are safe. We trust that you have already been monitoring the situation in your respective areas, but in case you need it, here are some helpful resources from US CDC and WHO on tips to prevent COVID-19 in communities and on mental health considerations, respectively.

If you are in an area where there is an outbreak of COVID-19, please try to remain calm and follow the advice issued by your national and local health authorities. Although for most people COVID-19 causes only mild illness, it can make some people very ill. Older people, those with pre-existing medical conditions (asthma, high blood pressure, heart problems, etc.), smokers, and pregnant women may be more vulnerable to the disease. More rarely, the disease can be fatal.

We recognize that this situation will also impact the livelihoods of vulnerable populations, including informal sector recyclers and others without affordable access to medical care or stable incomes, and are assessing ways to support those members of GAIA’s community. Those in places with less robust health care systems will also face a more difficult situation, which speaks to the need to keep working towards environmental and social justice worldwide.

We are currently assessing options for support that we can provide to network members and welcome your input and feedback. In the meantime, we would encourage all GAIA members to share the lessons we are learning and the work we are doing with each other.

Below are some tools for online work that could help you find alternative ways of meeting and connecting with each other in the upcoming months. Training for Change offers free online training tools on their website that cover a range of topics, including a guide to online meeting platforms and tips for Zoom breakout rooms. They also host sliding-scale webinar workshops on facilitating online meetings and leading an online training/webinar. Again, if you know of other useful tools, feel free to share them with all of us. GAIA staff are also available to answer questions or provide advice for those who are new to virtual facilitation.

We know we are all struggling with moving work forward with new political and logistical challenges. Many GAIA members and staff have limited or no internet connections from home. We trust that everyone will be especially patient and kind with each other, as we all face situations that may be hard for others to imagine.

Several members of GAIA’s coordination team found this quote particularly helpful:

“Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus, now dubbed COVID-19, is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind. We should prepare, not because we may feel personally at risk, but so that we can help lessen the risk for everyone. We should prepare not because we are facing a doomsday scenario out of our control, but because we can alter every aspect of this risk we face as a society. That’s right, you should prepare because your neighbors need you to prepare—especially your elderly neighbors, your neighbors who work at hospitals, your neighbors with chronic illnesses, and your neighbors who may not have the means or the time to prepare because of lack of resources or time.” – Scientific American

We are saddened to see the xenophobia that some elected officials are spreading, and stand together against fear-mongering and racism as an alliance. Should you have challenges that you think we can help with, feel free to reach out to GAIA’s coordinator in your region or any other member of the coordination team. Also please take care of yourself, your families, and your communities, so we can continue to work towards a healthier and safer future for all!

In solidarity,

the GAIA coordination team