Stories of hope and unity during COVID-19
75 young people participated in an online exchange between volunteers from UNICEF Italy and the #V4ACTION initiative from Nepal on their COVID-19 experience
The need to stay hopeful and kind – to each other and to oneself – during this crisis was key among the messages put forth by young people from Nepal and Italy as part of a recent webinar organized by UNICEF in collaboration with UNDP, WHO, UNV and the Resident Coordinator’s Office in Nepal.
As part of the webinar four volunteers from UNICEF Italy and four volunteers from the the #V4ACTION campaign – a volunteer initiative launched by different UN agencies in Nepal - shared their COVID-19 stories and experiences, including the impact on education, social lives and mental health. Apart from the speakers, participants also included 75 young people from all seven provinces of Nepal.
Anik Rana Magar spoke of the challenges faced by the community during the pandemic – namely, a worsening of the marginalization and stigma that they already face – and stressed on the need for better support. She explained how she has been actively working to provide urgent medical support to members of the LGBTIQ+ community throughout the COVID-19 period.
“I call on each one of you to support the LGBTIQ community, so we can live with dignity.”
Virginia Barchiesi shared her story of being active through a volunteer programme for which she also received a medal of honor from the President of Italy. But she admits that as a planner, it wasn't easy for her to adjust at first.
“Since I tend to over plan my days, this pandemic was a hard experience initially, but I understood that I needed to sit back and be on the present moment and make the best out of the situation.”
Speaking from his own experience, Sagar Parajuli shed light about the importance of mental health support for young people.
"I myself went through repeated phases of feeling depressed at the start of the lockdown."
Referring to the reported increase in cases of domestic violence and online harassment during the lockdown period, Sagar also talked of his own efforts, working with the local government and via online platforms to raise awareness.
Rasani Shahi spoke about her anxiety and worries when the pandemic initially hit, then described how she shifted her attention to focus on more productive ways of coping – including self-care, exercise and cooking.
“We cannot afford to be selfish. We need to be kind to each other and show empathy at this difficult time that the whole world is going through.”
Law student Roshani Adhikari talked about the different ways in which she has been keeping herself engaged during the pandemic. Visually-impaired herself, Roshani said she doesn’t let her disability stop her from doing her part to contribute to her community or advocating for inclusion of people with disabilities in various activities and opportunities. She is also learning some new skills.
"I always wanted to learn to dance... I decided to take the chance and try, and have uploaded that video on social media - it was a new experience."
Anastasia Vasapollo spoke about the important of knowing that we are in this crisis together and that the pandemic shows us how connected we are as a global community. She explained how important it was to speak up about the fear and anxieties created due to the pandemic, and talked about how her work with UNICEF has enabled her to use her network to reach more young Italians with positive messages.
"The crisis has taught us that we have to fight together for a better future."