Not that long ago we were sharing stories about Brexit. About the wall being built between the US and Mexico. About denying entry to boat loads of people arriving to foreign shores, having recently fled their war-torn home lands.

About them, and us.

We have had schools and businesses strike on Fridays, millions of people out on the streets protesting for the need to keep CO2 levels down, and people handcuff themselves to various Stock Exchange buildings in the name of climate change and questioning the future of global capitalism.

And suddenly, an invisible collection of microscopic DNA and proteins descends upon us and forces the world to stop.

To stop polluting the environment.
To question the trajectory of global capitalism.
It has halted the economy.
Forced families to spend quality time together.
And given people time to reflect on what matters and what we all truly stand for.

And suddenly, we need to work together, as a global community, to find a solution.

Both the epidemic itself and the resulting economic crisis are global problems. And they can only be solved effectively by working together, in global co-operation.

Never before has it been so important to come together. (Even in the midst of quarantines and isolation).

For now, we are all in emergency crisis mode. But we can’t forget the people around us.

Like in many other parts of the world, the situation in Brazil is going to be devastating. Many people in the communities and favelas here don’t have access to basic sanitation, running water isn’t easy to come by and houses and streets are full of people, it’s impossible to ‘social distance’.

Also, so many people who live here rely on informal work to make a living. They are living in real poverty. There are no savings. And like many other places around the world, shops are closed, tourism has halted, and no one is in the streets spending money.

Just today I had 3 people come to my house asking for food. And this is just the beginning.

What you are hearing a lot of at the moment is that people aren’t just going to die of coronavirus, they are going to die of hunger.

This is going to be a catastrophe.

But today, at home, we were wondering what we can do to help. Even if it’s something small.

And we had an idea.

We know we need to wash our hands to stay healthy and stop the spread of COVID-19.

So, imagine how difficult that is if you don’t have access to soap.

We decided today to help those people who are living on the streets in Olinda to wash their hands. The girls and I got a cardboard box, they designed it, and we left it in the market across the street from our house which used to be full of artisans, but is now closed due to coronavirus.

I then sent messages around various groups in the city via WhatsApp, and to the Mayor of Olinda, to get people to drop off a few bars of soap to this box on their way home from the grocery store. It’s the honour system, so hopefully those that really need it will take it. And hopefully people will just keep filling it for the foreseeable future. That’s the idea. But it feels good to help.

Together we are stronger.

Every crisis is an opportunity.

We must hope that the current epidemic will help humanity realise just how dangerous it is to work disunited. And hopefully, as we come out of this, we will realise just how important it is to work in global solidarity.

Wishing you all health, safety, and strength to get you through the coming weeks. It’s not going to be easy. But remember this.

Difficult subjects train the mind.
Difficult exercises train the body.
Difficult people train the heart.
Difficult times train the spirit.