Older Latina survivors of the pandemic

By Andrea Hernandez. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the world, transformed it, touched everyone's life: no one has ever been the same.

It was in February 2020 when the first case of the disease was reported in the United States, and it was still uncertain what was in store for society as a whole. "This disease affects mostly elderly people," it was said in those first months in the news, so this sector of society faced before anyone else the fear of contagion.  

In a live webcast titled "Older Latinas Surviving the Pandemic," hosted by Ethnic Media Services, the California Department of Aging and Peninsula 360 Press, Veronica Escamez, founder and director of Casa Circulo Cultural accompanied by Maria Orellana, family assistant at Union City Family Center and Estela Calapiz, family therapist and family constellation specialist, spoke from their experience of how their lives transformed and evolved in the midst of the pandemic that swept the world.

Amidst isolation, digital adaptation, and emotions of sadness and loneliness, these women found the opportunity to reinvent themselves and not stand idly by and extend help to everyone in the Bay Area community.

Verónica Escámez narrates how her beloved Casa Círculo had a transformation, because due to the support it provides to parents who have nowhere to leave their children while they work, they could not close their doors, so with all the protocols to avoid the spread of the virus, they continued their work.

In addition, during the pandemic, Casa Círculo Cultural faced a new challenge: to conduct free COVID-19 tests, and so, with the fear of being exposed to contagion, Escámez did not hesitate to gather the necessary forces so that she and teachers from Casa Círculo could learn how to perform them.

For her part, Maria Orellana faced another reality: when the school district she works for closed and implemented distance learning curricula, she found that many families had no way to support their children's education, since they had no internet or computer.

This led her to learn how to use digital tools that she had not known before in order to provide support to every family in her district and that in turn education would not be hindered or slowed down by this contingency.

Estela Calápiz also had to immerse herself in the digital world to be able to continue with the therapeutic help she provides, for her "zoom" was the tool of choice, and even though it was difficult, learning to use these tools has given her the motivation to relearn new things and get out of the "comfort" zone she felt she was in.

But not only was their professional life transformed, but they also went through very strong emotions of loneliness, uncertainty and fear, Calápiz describes it as "a depressive cloud" that invaded everything during the days when they heard about people who were infected and did not survive the disease. 

It was those emotions they mention that led them to consider what would happen if they were infected and didn't survive. 

In spite of everything, they see and realize that not everything that COVID-19 brought with it was negative, because not only were they transformed, but they also discovered the solidarity that exists in many people, they witnessed how society brought out the best to give and share with those who needed it most.

And that is exactly what they hope will remain from this experience, mutual support and solidarity.

Almost a year after receiving their first dose, and with their full schedule, in addition to the booster shot, these women are calling on everyone to get vaccinated, highlighting the importance of doing so not only for oneself, but for everyone else, so as not to become infected and to be closer to ending the pandemic.

Don't miss the opportunity to listen to the complete talk by giving here.

You can also listen to the podcast with the highlights of the talk:

You may be interested in: The challenge: pandemic mental health crisis in young people

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