Happy Easter!

Wishing all my readers a wonderful Easter in these different times. I guess many of us are not celebrating Easter as we usually do, but I hope your weekend has brought you some happiness.

We would normally have been travelling to visit my husband’s family in the south of Sweden, but travelling has been strongly discouraged so we stayed put. We have been out on the bike a couple of times – the first time this year – and it was great to get out and clear our heads.

I had on an undershirt, two long sleeved t shirts, a thick hooded sweatshirt, jeans, leather trousers and jacket, and I was still cold. It was amazing to be out in the fresh air on the open road though! 

Sweden has been in the news for the past weeks for NOT enforcing a lockdown during this pandemic. We have a population of 10 million with – at present – about 10 000 cases and 1 000 deaths related to COVID-19. Life goes on pretty much as normal, albeit scaled down. Shops, pubs, restaurants, shopping malls are open. People are in parks, on public transport, out walking. There is a ban on gatherings larger than 50, a ban on visiting old-age homes, and a ban on buffet service. Other than that you are encouraged to work at home and not travel on public transport. If you are out and about you are required to keep distance. Travelling – international and domestic is strongly discouraged. The onus is on the individual to be responsible. The Prime Minister and the authorities have made it clear that if people do not take responsibilities, harsher measures will be introduced.

It remains to be seen whether this more relaxed method will work. Sweden is sparsely populated with high trust in the authorities. It also has a good health and welfare sector. There are government measures in place to make it easier to be in quarantine, to obtain unemployment benefit, to retrain, to bolster small companies, to do things online. The economy was strong to begin with.

On the other hand, my family in South Africa has had their three-week total lockdown extended to five. This measure was declared to be a good thing by most people because a steep infection curve would cripple the crumbling South African healthcare system. On the other hand, the economy was shaky to begin with and this lockdown will have a huge impact on that. You cannot buy alcohol or cigarettes in South Africa for these five weeks so I guess quite a few people will have to give up smoking during the two-week extension!

My workload has dropped by quite a bit but the classes I can give, I do via Skype. My husband is also working primarily from home. Living and working together hasn’t been a problem but we do try and get out for a walk most days. I am used to being really active during the day and I tend to feel a bit cooped up.

In seven days we are, hopefully, moving to our new apartment. It has not been the best time for such a huge upheaval and all it entails but everything has worked out so far! Neither of us can wait. This is our dream apartment. We fell in love with it before it even went on sale and have been counting down the days until we move in.

Most long-term readers know I give quite a lot of money to charity each month. At the moment I am so worried about people in South African who work in the informal sector. They wash cars, guard cars, work in gardens, beg, do casual labour. I come from the poorest province of South Africa, where unemployment reaches 60%. Many people live from hand to mouth. And under complete lockdown they have no food. South Africa is the most unequal country on earth so there are people who could, literally, starve. If you are on the right hand side of the photo below you live in cramped conditions, often with no running water or sanitation.

So at the moment the causes I support have been

Raise ‘n Rescue cat charity (Cape Town, South Africa), as usual. I sponsor kittens. The latest being Picachu, Scrooge McDuck, Tito and Luke

Scrooge McDuck

I also helped pay for surgery for Blossom via Grace Animal Sanctuary in Cape Town, South Africa.

and my husband and I sponsor food parcels for people in lockdown in Ndlambe, Eastern Cape, South Africa. In addition to food parcels, this drive provides sanitary protection, pet food, sanitiser and masks. The amount we give feeds 4 families for a week. It’s not enough. Of course it is not enough. But I have learned that you do what you can.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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