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Masks, Melbourne and memories: How multicultural women are making a difference in the community during 2nd COVID-19 wave

Women in Melbourne say life is not the same but the 2nd COVID-19 wave is easier to manage compared to the first one in March. Source: Supplied

For some, life is business as usual during the lockdown due to COVID-19, but for others, it is not so easy. Balancing work and life is a whole new game in the "new normal." Five women from different backgrounds share their second wave experiences and how they are trying to make a difference to the people around them.

Sandeep Sidhu [ School Teacher]

“In the first lockdown my parents were visiting Australia; my father had a seizure and I lost him. So, the lockdown for me is very difficult to cope with.

“It is also extremely challenging as you can’t meet people that often; the phone is the usual means of communication."

Staying motivated - “I am making free cloth masks for the people in need or who can’t afford them. By helping them I am helping myself in this difficult time.

"I taught the refugee women online how to make masks and now family members and friends are wearing the masks I make."

Sandeep is making free cloth masks for the community.
Sandeep is making free cloth masks for the community.
Supplied

Dr Muneera Bano [Lecturer/Researcher]

“It’s disappointing to be in a second lockdown considering I personally tried my best to follow all the guidelines during the first lockdown, however, the pandemic is a community issue and hence the solution is also community-oriented i.e. physical/social distancing.

“This is a handmade cloth mask, it was given to me in Pakistan during December holidays when I was visiting home, it was for bushfire catastrophe back then. But as 2020 is the year of masks, now I am putting it to good use during mandatory mask requirement of Melbourne second lockdown.

Dr Muneera Bano says it is our social responsibility in this time to play our part to keep everyone safe.
Dr Muneera Bano says it is our social responsibility in this time to play our part to keep everyone safe.
Supplied

I don’t mind wearing a mask at all, it is our social responsibility in this time to play our part to keep everyone safe.

Staying motivated - “Besides my teaching and research which keeps me busy and provides me with a sense of purpose, I try to motivate others by giving talks to the community and through my writings which in turn gives me the strength to deal with the current situation as well.”

Dr Sakshi Singh [Medical Professional]

“Just before the pandemic, I was in Mumbai (India) on holidays and celebrated Holi there. But as more and more people became affected with COVID-19, extreme restrictions took place along with curfews. I was stuck inside my house with no means of getting around for months.

“When I came back to Melbourne, I continued wearing a mask in public places but that wasn’t the case with many others. Some people looked at me suspiciously. Perhaps they thought I was wearing a mask because I was unwell. Then the 2nd wave came.”

Dr Sakshi Singh is a health professional in Melbourne.
Dr Sakshi Singh is a health professional in Melbourne.
Supplied
 

Staying motivated: “Every person in the world is in some way or the other affected by the pandemic. We are very fortunate in Australia to have so many resources available to us; let's be grateful. We will deal with this situation together. Stay strong.”

Ifrah Saeed [ Researcher/ Student]

“Since March, we have been following government restrictions. We stopped sending our child to childcare and my husband and I started to work-from-home.

“When the situation got better and restrictions eased, my husband kept working from home but I started going to campus on special permission. However, this lasted for a very short time and as the second lockdown hit us, we resumed working from home again."

Ifrah Saeed with her husband and son.
Ifrah Saeed with her husband and son.
Supplied

Staying motivated - As the president of Melbourne University Pakistani Society, I have worked with several students who were facing difficult times, some needed assistance to stay there while others wanted to go back to their home countries.”

Stay home, stay safe.

Ansa Riaz [ Student, Development studies]

“In the first lockdown, I had to see a counsellor because of health conditions. The second lockdown isn’t as shocking as the first one.

“I have an allergy and the mask triggers sneezing and coughing so I didn’t use it in the first wave. But now following government instructions and wear a mask when I go outside.

Ansa Riaz is studying development studies at a Melbourne university.
Ansa Riaz is studying development studies at a Melbourne university.
Supplied

Staying motivated - “I am cooking and doing yoga, and watch television dramas to pass time.

“I go out of the house, at least once a week to keep motivated as my health got affected when I didn’t in the first wave.”

Listen to their interviews by clicking the 'play' button on top of the first image.

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne are subject to stay-at-home orders and can only leave home for essential work, study, exercise or care responsibilities. People are also advised to wear masks in public.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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