- Tell us what it has been like living and working in Sri Lanka through the pandemic?
Working through the pandemic has been both quite a challenge and a blessing. Having been a facilitator who enjoys facilitating physical workshops and training sessions, adjusting to virtual sessions was difficult at first. I found it hard to gauge learner engagement, manage experiences etc. However, a year and half on, I have become much more comfortable with this form of working and consider myself blessed.
- What has been the biggest challenge/obstacle to life during COVID?
As an extrovert, one of my biggest challenges was being confined indoors during the lockdowns and not being able to visit friends and family. I couldn’t visit my family for over 11 months as they lived in another province. Being confined indoors did affect my mental health as I found the experience to be very exhausting and lonesome.
- How did you respond to it and what have you’ve learned about yourself during this time?
As with many others during the pandemic, I learnt of personal resilience during this time. I learnt to adjust to drastic changes overnight, to be much more resourceful and also, discover what it meant to be a part of a local community by helping each other. To this extent, I joined ongoing efforts with mental health awareness sessions and a mental health support group to help others in need as well. Being an animal lover, I also spent a great deal of time feeding street animals as most of them didn’t have much food to eat with people confined indoors. I meditated, painted, cooked and read quite extensively as a response to cope with this massive change in our lives.
- How has the country changed during the pandemic?
Sri Lanka has changed a lot during the pandemic. While the aftershocks are felt differently across various segments of society, Sri Lankans have become much more resilient to adjust to these situations. Many people have become home business entrepreneurs, children have switched to online learning platforms and there is a profound sense of community among many people. People have been affected by pay cuts and layoffs but they have also been resilient to find alternative sources of income to support the local economy and themselves. As a country that relies on tourism, as part of our national exports, the economy was affected greatly until the airports opened again.
- What do you think the future looks like for the country in the next 2-3 years and beyond?
It does seem like a slow but steady road to recovery for Sri Lanka in the coming years. The economy and the country are both opening up slowly with the start of our aggressive vaccination programme. As such, there is a need for all Sri Lankans to stand by each other, accept diversity and support communities to aid the recovery. Sri Lankans are cautiously optimistic about the future as there are FDIs and other development projects that are actively taking place within the country despite the temporary economic slowdown.