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  • Gabriella van Rij

What the World Needs Now

I drive through the suburbs in the US. Nobody can be seen. It feels eerie… Ah, but coming around the bend—high above a garden gate—I see a ball in the air and it hits a basketball hoop. There is life after all. Each child plays alone in their yards. No more interaction.

The physical distancing has become a reality, not just for us, but for the students who likely never even remotely imagined not being able to go to school or to play with friends or go to their sports games.

It is not much different for us adults. Do we dare to turn on the TV in the morning? On the one hand, you want to be informed, but on the other hand, you want to start your day positively. Too much information… What to believe, what to heed, what to listen to?

My heart goes out to the people on the front lines who we do not always talk about. Yes, of course, all the nurses and doctors and anyone who volunteers, they are our heroes. But also, there are other people who are in harm’s way… What about the people…

· who clean the hospitals or nursing homes,

· who deliver our Amazon packages through UPS or other delivery methods,

· who serve us food and operate the drive-through chain restaurants,

· who man the gas stations,

· who serve us in the grocery stores that are still open,

· who stock the shelves, even though they are often invisible,

· who serve our communities as security guards, law enforcement, our governors, our mayors, and

· what about the student for whom the school is an escape from an abusive home?

These people put their lives on the line for something that we do not yet fully understand—what it is and how it is going to affect us in the short term and the long term.

I was looking for masks today to protect one of my friends who works in a grocery store. She has absolutely no protection… What goes through the cashiers’ minds while serving cranky and highly anxious shoppers? I saw price gouging for masks that would normally cost $13 offered for $200… and nobody seems to have the capacity to put a real end to this.

I think of the exchange student who cannot get home and who is either stuck in a dorm or with a family that is not her own. How do they feel? Every night, my prayers are so long now that I cannot fall asleep immediately afterward, as I think of how brave they are. And last but not least, I think of the people who now sleep in hotels to be close to the hospital and that due to their job, they cannot go home and hug their child or put them to bed…

There is nothing we can do to ever really thank them for their service.

As I cannot sit still and just watch this new perplexing world, I have decided to jump into action! Progress seems slow to the impatient me, but opportunities are arising every day to help bring out the best that humanity has to offer.

I have a few plans up my sleeve, any ideas, feedback or input are most welcome:

This order has no bearing on importance; they are all important.

Here goes:

· Helping cancer patients via phone/zoom in any capacity while they go through chemo so that they do not feel as isolated as they truly are. Also for the children going through this.

· Helping at-risk students by asking schools to create homework assignments that touch on their mental and emotional state that can be sent in online to further anonymity and allow students to let teachers know if they need help.

· Helping to cook food, or shop for the elderly, and dropping it in front of their doors (text and leave).

· Helping a child in your neighborhood to do their homework online (through sharing your Internet bandwidth or talking to them in hallways of apartment buildings, offering to help with math or geography or social studies).

· Helping by starting an old-fashioned phone chain. Reach out to everyone in your church, congregation, or community center and find out who is not holding up. Let them know it is OK to vent, to be scared, but foremost the important role here is to listen.

· Last but definitely not least, let us find a way to get all old devices that work with WIFI to be donated to hospitals or the elderly so that they can communicate and see their loved ones who live afar… It is isolating on both sides. Also these devices can be used so that not any of our loved ones have to die in a hospital, care facility, or hospice without family by their side.

Not all of these ideas are mine, but mixed in with all of the creativity from all around the world. We can make it happen and duplicate these ideas worldwide!

Who is in?

Who is willing to put in the effort to do more than read? Please phone or text me. I prefer text and WhatsApp, as I cannot always take phone calls during my work.

Let’s show each and every community that we are capable and that together we are strong. This is an opportunity that won’t come twice in a lifetime, to put all our differences aside, to surpass our biases and cultural hang-ups for one common goal: to help and care for each other.

My cell/WhatsApp number is +1-415-656-6656. Please contact me if you have ideas that will help facilitate the bullet points above. Everyone is welcome! This is a worldwide effort.

With Kindness,

I sign off for today,


“By making Kindness a choice, we are investing together in humanity.”

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