Think globally, act locally: A Story from Zenica

As a part of PYN’s Think globally, act locally: Lead by example series of articles, Bojana Naimarević, an active PYN member from Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, shared her experience in dealing with the ongoing pandemic situation. Read her story!

March passes by as usual. Now and then I hear news about a virus in Asia that is gaining momentum and I think, it’s somewhere far away and it’s happening to someone else. It won’t get here. I don’t delve into it, I’m tired of the huge amount of information the media provide us with every day. In a couple of days, the first case in our country emerged and a thought goes through my head: “Well, it’s just one, possibly a couple of them, it will pass. Nothing terrible.”. In the blink of an eye, the situation becomes alarming. Restriction after restriction, it is not entirely clear to me what is happening, what are we defending ourselves against? My brain is trying to process and find an explanation. It is futile. Days later, still unaware of the situation, I wait for restrictions to loosen up, refusing to buy food supplies thus creating panic. It is impossible for this isolation and quarantine to last. However, I was proven wrong. I slowly become aware that I am separated from my family, I have not seen them for days. Some of them lost their jobs, some of them had to be isolated from their families…And separation is difficult especially because they have to reorganize their whole life. 

Meanwhile, I overload myself with obligations: online education, video calls, reading books … It makes my hours and days easier. In the moments when I don’t do that I think about love, kindness, the act of giving and the purpose of life. I think about the meaninglessness of the conflict. I want to hug everyone. I feel connected to everyone. Trouble can do that to the people. It unites us, it brings us back to the things that matter. It shows us the meaninglessness of the constant rush and chaos which we have embraced as a way of living. Now we must pause, not by our choice, but due to the unfortunate circumstances. I report to the local Red Cross office, I want to participate in delivering the necessary food to the most vulnerable members of our community. My acquaintances call me, we organize actions to help people who are in a difficult situation. I am glad to see many similar examples. I am looking for civic initiatives aimed at helping people. Everyone instinctively shows solidarity here. It seems we have vast experience in doing so.

The situation is calming down. Overnight, everything is “allowed” to us. To be honest, there is no logic in that, but I’m telling myself that everything is fine. I can return to “normal” life. Nonetheless, the fear floats in the air. Nothing is the same anymore. We can be together but under certain conditions which are not entirely clear. It’s as if some invisible hand is circling around us and leading the game. As the days go by, there are more and more cases of infected people. Fatalities, too. It is no longer happening to “someone else” like we thought when the numbers were lower. Young people I know are now infected too. In a blink of an eye they are gone.

Part of me knows my loved ones, including myself, can be infected, too. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. All the cards are on the table, we are here to play. We walk the line every day,  faced with another kind of challenge over and over again. There is no magic solution and recipe. We wash our hands, keep our distance, wear masks. That’s all we can do. We think of ourselves, but also of other people. A test of responsibility and humanity that we will hopefully pass this time as well.

Bojana Naimarević