American couple change wedding plans amid Coronavirus pandemic

“Everyone was super supportive. 

I think most people were glad that we made this decision, because even though they had to change plans, it really was the safest option. 

So yeah, everybody was so supportive and awesome about our decision.”

– Sonya Kaminski 

The Coronavirus pandemic has made a great impact in 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted important events for many all over the world. People have had to cancel and or reschedule important events – such as conferences, concerts, or even weddings. According to a HITCHED survey, “nine in ten couples – 90% – have chosen to postpone their wedding to next year – 2021, because they were concerned with how long the COVID-19 crisis was going to last”. 

Covid-19 weddings

©Stock image – 1682739619 – by Goodideas

As for American couple – Patrick and Sonya – they were planning their wedding for June 21, 2020, in which they too had to make the difficult decision to postpone their ‘Fairy Tale Wedding‘ to June 2021 due to the health risks that the pandemic had imposed on their wedding.

The American couple were of course disappointed that they had to make the decision to postpone their ‘Fairy Tale Wedding’. Patrick said, ‘that was the most difficult challenge, having to make the decision to postpone the wedding’. Additionally, Sonya said, ‘they knew it was an important decision to make, because they wanted to keep their wedding guests informed and allow them to make the necessary arrangements if needed’. 

“Just making that decision was really hard and stressful, because we wanted to make it early enough where we could give people a heads up – so if they needed to cancel flights or change hotels they could do that.

We didn’t want people scrambling last minute, but it was also like, ‘if we made the decision too early – maybe things would start getting better, maybe the number of cases in our area or Arkansas would start decreasing, and maybe we could have actually had the wedding if we waited a little longer’. 

So I think, choosing a deadline for a decision to postpone the wedding was really hard.” 

-Sonya Kaminiski

Patrick and Sonya – were – as I said, disappointed that they had to make the decision to postpone the wedding – besides, this has been something they have been anticipating for a while now – to become husband and wife.

Patrick and Sonya have been together for a while now – for 12 years. They said, ‘their love for one another has truly persevered through some of the most challenging circumstances; however, they have always stuck by each other’s side’. 

“We met at a White Water Rafting Company in 2008, where we both worked. 

I was working in the retail store and Patrick was a Raft Guide.

We met that summer, and have been together ever since.”

– Sonya Kaminski 

Video interview featured below: Patrick and Sonya share more of their story with me – how they met, how long they have been together, and when Patrick decided it was time to “pop the question”. Interview conducted on June 13, 2020. Duration 2:21.

As long as Patrick and Sonya have been together, they have always known that they wanted to make a lifelong commitment to one another – to get married; therefore, after moving from their home state – Tennessee – to Florida to begin their next chapter, Patrick decided it was time to “pop the question”.

“I guess I’ve known for a while now that I wanted to propose. 

We had been talking about it and we decided that we didn’t want to wait until after Sonya finishes her PhD, so we figured we would go ahead and get married.”

– Patrick Kaminiski 

When Patrick did “pop the question”, Sonya inevitably said ‘yes’, so they then began to plan their ‘Fairy Tale Wedding’ – with their family and friends – at a ‘Royal inspired’ Chapel – St. Catherines at Bell Gable, which is nestled at the foot of Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.

“St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable” by fayettevilleflyer is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Covid-19 pandemic change plans for American couple’s ‘Fairy Tale Wedding’

However, after having planned their ‘Fairy Tale Wedding‘, setting a date for June 21, 2020, and inviting +30 people from all over the US – and the UK – to their Arkansas wedding, the American couple made a difficult decision amid the Coronavirus pandemic – to postpone their ‘Fairy Tale Wedding’ to the following year of June 2021. 

The American couple made this decision based on the fact that the Coronavirus cases were only getting substantially worse everyday; therefore, moving their wedding to the following year was the best option for them, so that they could better their chances for their wedding guests to be present for their wedding day.

After they made this decision, Patrick and Sonya had to let their wedding guests know of their decision – to postpone their wedding to June 2021.

Even though this was a difficult decision for them to make, Patrick and Sonya said, ‘their wedding guests were actually happy about their decision to postpone the wedding’.

“Everyone was super supportive. 

I think most people were glad that we made this decision, because even though they had to change plans, it really was the safest option. 

So yeah, everybody was so supportive and awesome about our decision.”

– Sonya Kaminski 

On the other hand, even though Patrick and Sonya decided to reschedule their ‘Fairy Tale Wedding’ at the St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable Chapel for June 2021, they also made another decision – they wanted to go ahead and “tie the knot“. 

Furthermore, Patrick and Sonya did end up “tying the knot” on their ‘original planned wedding day’ of June 21, 2020 at Alligator Point Beach in Florida with just a few of their family members, a friend (the Maid of Honour)their Pastor (who married them), and of course their dog, Mr. Fraggles (the Best Man). 

Best Man: Mr. Fraggles (their dog)

Sonya said, Fraggles has been there from the very beginning of their relationship – for 12 years. She also said, Fraggle’s is and was just as much part of their big day as her and Patrick. Moreover, even though this was not their traditional planned wedding ceremony that they had hoped for, they still wanted to include the “normal wedding traditions”.

“We still wanted the smaller ceremony to include a lot of the things that I have always envisioned on my wedding day. 

So we’re still going to have a cake, it’s just smaller. We’re still going to have flowers, there’s just not going to be near as many of them. We’re still going to have a photographer, just not for the whole day.”

– Sonya Kaminski

The American couple said, the hardest part about making the decision – to plan for two weddings  – was the expense of it.

“We were definitely adding onto the wedding budget, because we already had the bigger wedding budgeted. 

So we talked about it and decided it was once in a lifetime thing.

So even though the Florida wedding was going to be smaller, I still wanted it to be documented. So we hired a photographer.”

– Sonya Kaminski 

The beach that Patrick and Sonya chose to ‘tie the knot’ was at Alligator PointSonya said, ‘This beach is generally not a busy beach’, so they were not concerned about crowds being near them or their guests during the ceremony – in which, they were able to keep their five wedding guests, as well as themselves, safe during these unprecedented times.

Slideshow video featured below: Sonya & Patrick’s wedding ceremony at Alligator Point Beach on June 20, 2020. Duration 1:35.

The American couple were glad they made the decision to ‘tie the knot’ before their original planned ceremony with their family and friends; however, they did run into a few issues as they attempted to reschedule their Arkansas wedding. For the most part though, the American couple said, ‘their wedding vendors were very understanding and tried their best to accommodate their request to reschedule their ‘Fairy Tale Wedding’ at the St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable Chapel. 

“We ran into a couple of obstacles, but I think people were trying their best to be accommodating and to do the best they could for us. 

So we really appreciated that. 

I think we ended up with some good vendors.” 

– Sonya Kaminiski

Despite the difficulties that Patrick and Sonya faced of their wedding during the Coronavirus pandemic, the American couple offer a message of hope to those who are also planning a wedding: 

“When you plan a wedding, you plan down to the second of what is going to happen on that day – ‘here is where the people will stand, what everyone will wear, and what will the cake look like. 

You can think all you want that your plans will go perfectly.

But I think, if you stay positive – as you can – even though this is a really stressful and sad time, you’ll be able to get through it.

Your wedding might not look like you planned – I know ours won’t for both of our ceremony’s – but we are still going to make the best out of it and it’ll be a great day either way.”

– Sonya Kaminski 

Video interview featured below: Sonya and Patrick provide insight in their decision to postpone their wedding and also explain why they decided to go ahead and get married on the original planned wedding day. (Interview conducted on June 13, 2020.) Duration 12:05.

Indian Orphanage provides more than 10,000 Covid-19 relief packs to internal migrants amid pandemic

“They were lined up at our gates, because they were so desperate for food and medications. They could not afford these daily essentials.” – Courtney Regina Lalotra, Founder& President of One Life to Love

Migrants struggle in India amid Covid-19 pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has had a great impact on all countries across the world; however, India has been especially impacted during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, India has had over 395,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases, which makes India the fourth leading country of confirmed cases; moreover, India is currently on lockdown until the first of July, which is when India’s government will reevaluate and decide whether or not the lockdown needs to be extended again.

As the coronavirus cases continue to rise in India, so do the loss of jobs. According to Trading Economics, the unemployment rate has went from 7 to 23 percent in India, which has left many migrants struggling to find a place to go and food to eat. Furthermore, India is the leading country in the world to host 17.5 million internal migrants in their country, according to the Economic Times.

Courtney Regina Lalotra, founder and president of One Life to Love, and her husband Yogesh Lalotra quickly recognised that there was a great need to help migrants who are struggling during this pandemic; therefore, they started putting together and distributing Covid-19 relief packs, which consists of food and medications.

With One Life to Love’s efforts, they have helped over 10,000 internal migrants by distributing Covid-19 relief packs.

Video featured below: Courtney and her husband hand out food and medications to those who are in need. Duration 0.24

About One Life to Love & its purpose

Founder and president of One Life to Love Courtney Regina Lalora with child who is a part of the Daycare & Education Center for Migrant Children

One Life to Love is an orphanage home for boys who have ‘special needs’. The orphanage home opened their doors 10 years ago and have been providing variety of services – a home for boys, day care services for girls and boys, woman alliance programs, sponsorship for children going to school, and much more.

Courtney Lalotra, who is the founder and president of One Life to Love, is originally from New Jersey – USA. Over 10 years ago, Courtney graduated from  the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York and became very successful in her fashion career; however, she realised she needed to do something more with her life, she needed to find a deeper meaning.

Coincidentally at this pivotal moment in her life, Courtney was offered an opportunity to study abroad for a research project in India with her former colleagues and professors to study a very fashionable fabric called ‘pashmina wool’, in which she quickly accepted.

Upon first arriving in India, she instantly saw that there was a lack of support for children who have ‘special needs’; therefore, she then decided to stay in India after completing her research project with her colleagues.

Founder and president of One Life to Love Courtney Lalotra with children of the slum 10 years ago

Courtney then moved to the slums of Delhi and helped countless street children and orphan children. However, there was one specific child – Surendar, whose name means beautiful boy – whom she got attached to, but unfortunately due to limited resources at the organisation that she was at, they could not assist him.

Furthermore, the story of Surendar is where the One Life to Love story began.

“This organisation that I was working with didn’t want to spend the resources that was needed to care for this child named Surendar, so they ended up sending him to the only mental institution in Delhi for children like him and two months later he died as a result of neglect.

When he passed away, it was really heart-breaking for me and that’s when I decided that I wanted to do something.

So I decided to open a home for children, like Surendar, and that’s when One Life to Love opened its doors.

We now have 10 children who have ‘special needs’ – and that’s not all, we have over 30 children who come every day for day care services, women alliance programs (where we are providing sanitary pads for women who don’t have access to them), and we are sponsoring education for more than 300 girls to go to school.

As soon as a need is presented to us, we work with the One Life to Love volunteers, professionals, and our local community to figure out, ‘how can we address this need to help fill this gap’.'”

– Courtney Regina Lalotra, Founder and President of One Life to Love

In order to help care for the children who live at the One Life to Love home, Courtney also has four ‘house mothers‘ who assist her with the children. The benefits of these particular house mothers are that they know and understand what these children are going through, because they have went through similar circumstances themselves.

One Life to Love children with their ‘house mothers’

One Life to Love also offers day care services for girls; however, Courtney hopes to open an even larger home, which would house boys and girls, as well as add an animal shelter (to help animals get off the streets and for therapy purposes).

Courtney is currently working with Architects Without Frontiers to bring this vision into fruition. Architects Without Frontiers provides assistance to facilitate the design and construction of health, education, and community projects, so that hopefully with their assistance, along with sponsors help, they can build a home like Courtney envisions.

Video featured below: Founder of One Life to Love Courtney Regina Lalotra shares with me how the orphanage originally got started, what it is that they do, and what is its sole purpose. Duration 16:13

Covid-19 Relief Efforts

One Life to Love and their volunteers originally began distributing Covid-19 relief packs to their day care children who were no longer able to come to the One Life to Love day care facility, due to India’s Covid-19 lockdown.

Once more people heard about One Life to Love distributing Covid-19 relief packs, hundreds of people began lining up outside their gates, because these people were all in need. Courtney said, they were all so desperate for food and medications, because they could not afford these daily essentials.

Not only is it important to One Life to Love to ensure that the people who live in the slums of India get their daily essentials, but they also want to provide the necessary education that they are in need of as well; therefore, One Life to Love has created campaigns in order to assist them with this need to help keep everyone safe in the slums of India during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Awareness campaigns is a very integral part of our work, so while we  distribute Covid-19 relief packs, we are also doing awareness campaigns – teaching people about hygiene –  showing them how to wear a face mask, how to wash their hands, and to eat healthy foods. This is an integral part of the program and it’s still ongoing.”

– Courtney Regina Lalotra, Founder& President of One Life to Love

Covid-19 relief packs

As many are struggling globally during this pandemic, Courtney shares her opinion of who may struggle the most during the post-covid recovery period.

“I think that nonprofits are going to suffer as a result of this.

We depend on other people’s donations in order to sustain our work, so we’re not sure what’s going to happen this coming year.

But you know, it’s across the board – every one is going to struggle.”

– Courtney Regina Lalotra, Founder& President of One Life to Love

Video featured below: Founder & President of One Life to Love Courtney Regina Lalotra shares with me what One Life to Love is doing in order to help during the Coronavirus pandemic. Duration 7:26

Courtney’s Final Message

Courtney shared with me her final thoughts on how others who may be struggling during this pandemic can turn something of what seems to be an impossible situation by rethinking things – ‘turn an impossible situation into an opportunity to do good.’

“It’s so important to look up and find hope. Find a way that you can contribute somehow. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but I find through service, doing good – you’re the one who benefits.

Let’s look out and see ‘how can I make a positive difference’.

Make a donation to a nonprofit, call someone to see how they are doing, send someone a compliment, like something on their Facebook, or make a nice comment on someone’s post – you know it’ll make their day and you’ll feel good doing it.”

– Courtney Regina Lalotra, Founder& President of One Life to Love

Video featured below: Courtney shares with me some words of encouragement for people who may struggling during this pandemic. Duration 4:06

If you would like to help One Life to Love in continuing their efforts, please follow this link to donate.

Covid-19: Turbine Technicians keep the lights on during pandemic

“These are critical workers. They are doing a very important job for the country to keep the lights on. And in order for them to do that they have to go together by boat and work in a wind turbine, which is a relatively confined environment.” – General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith

Curtesy image from London Array Offshore Wind Farm

Everyday Turbine Technicians set out to continue to keep the lights on for England during the Covid-19 pandemic.  It’s about a one-hour long journey for the Turbine Technicians and their crew members to travel by boat to get to the wind turbines. Without these essential workers working so tirelessly during the Covid-19 pandemic, it would make being on lockdown all the more harder for everybody in England.

Furthermore, I spoke with Bob Smith, General Manager of London Array  Offshore Wind Farm, who told me how the Turbine Technicians have been impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic and what safety measures have been put in place for these Turbine Technicians and their crew members – with consideration to the fact that there are at least six of them that go out by boat everyday and they are in a confined space.

So what is a wind turbine and how does it work?

According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “wind turbines work on a simple principle: instead of using electricity to make wind—like a fan—wind turbines use wind to make electricity. ” Moreover, to better understand this process, I asked General Manager Smith how a wind turbine works, how do they know when there is problem with the wind turbines, and how often do the Turbine Technicians need to go out to do maintenance on the wind turbines.

Journo Jess: So Bob, how exactly does a wind turbine work?

“The turbine itself is essentially a windmill, just like the old-style windmill used to be when the wind blows the blades turn. It’s a bit more sophisticated, because we can control how fast they turn based on their wind speed. We then can adjust the pitch of the blades and that then drives through a gear box into a generator. The generator produces electricity that flows from a cable to the wind turbine then to a substation onshore, that connects to the national grip.”

– General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith

Curtesy images from London Array Offshore Wind Farm

Journo Jess: When do you know that there is a problem with the wind turbines?

“All of our turbines are managed in great detail with senses on pretty much every component and those senses are connected to the shore, so we can see every minute, in fact every second, what is happening on every machine. And then there are a series of alarms when something is not right it will tell us when there is a problem. And we can see that alarm. Sometimes, you can just restart it from the office or sometimes you have to go to the machine to restart it.”

– General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith

Journo Jess: How often do the Turbine Technicians have to go out to the wind turbines for maintenance work?

“We have a team working full time, so they are always, every day, as long as the weather is suitable – everyday they go out to the machines.

There are 175 wind turbines with London Array. So even if you have to visit one every twice a year, you still have a full year worth of work right there. The technician crews are of six people and they are coming and going every day to one of the machines.”

– General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith

Video featured below: Bob Smith explains how a wind turbine works, when they know there is a problem with a wind turbine, and how often they have to go out to do maintenance on the machines. 👇🏻 ▶️ 👀 duration: 2:29

How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the Turbine Technicians?

Curtesy image from London Array Offshore Wind Farm

With social distancing being in place for the Covid-19 pandemic, it makes it extremely difficult for those essential workers who are working so closely with their colleagues while on the job. Therefore, I was intrigued to know what it is that London Array Offshore Wind Farm has put in place to best protect the Turbine Technicians, as well as their boat crew members, as they travel together. Here is what General Manager of London Array Offshore Farm, Bob Smith, had to say:

“Yes of course, we’ve reduced the number of people that travel in a boat and reduced the number of people that work together. So, our teams work in shifts generally anyway, but in addition to that we’ve staggered the salient, so that the boats don’t go out at the same time as they used to.

They go in separate journeys and when that happens the crews arrive at the office, they go through the process of preparation, go to the boat, and then to the wind farm. They’ve left before the next crew arrives at the office.

So, we’re separating them so that they don’t mix with each other. And then that way it obviously reduces the number of people they interact with.

Obviously, we don’t have anybody in the office. All of our office staff are working from home, so that again reduces the number of people they interact with and keeps the crews together so that they don’t interact, the crew doesn’t change or evolve, and it stays the same.”

General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith

With consideration to the fact that the UK Government is giving essential workers priority to get tested for the Coronavirus shall they experience any Coronavirus related symptoms, Turbine Technicians as well as their boat crew members do have this access; therefore, I wanted to know if General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith, have utilised this resource or not. Here is what Smith had to say:

“So, what we’re saying at the moment, if you feel unwell in any way you can go and get that test.  And obviously while you’re getting that test, you’ll be isolating until you get the results. If the result is positive, you obviously go into isolation. If the result is negative you can come back to work if you feel okay.”

– General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith

As many fear of contracting the Coronavirus, especially if someone is experiencing any Coronavirus related symptoms, I then asked Smith if he has been short on staff because of this problem, here is what he had to say:

So, we’ve had I think four people that have expressed concerns, because they were having symptoms and those people have been tested and the result was negative, so they were okay. We haven’t actually had anybody that’s had a confirmed diagnosis.

– General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith

General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith offers a message of appreciation to his Turbine Technicians and their crew members that have been working tirelessly during this pandemic:

“London Array produces 2% of UK’s electricity. That’s just over 500,000  homes. What we’re doing is absolutely critical to keep the lights on for the country. And I know for me, sitting in my house, it’s very easy to say, but we rely entirely on these people to go to work every day to do their job. And so far, they’ve done a fantastic job.”

– General Manager of London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Bob Smith

Featured video interview below:  To hear the full interview with Bob Smith on how the turbine technicians are coping with the Covid-19 pandemic watch the video below. 👇🏻 ▶️ 👀 duration: 7.57

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Episode Three

This is my third episode of my virtual one-minute news update of a story I plan to cover this week! 👀 👇🏻 👀

Enjoy my third episode and leave a comment below 👇🏻 to let me know what you think!!!??!!!

Here is the link to the news story following this news story update: Covid-19: Turbine Technicians keep the lights on during pandemic 

Covid-19: US New Jersey Pharmacist speaks out

“It’s a lot different. We have to take credit cards on the phone to pay for everything. We’re allowed to sign Covid, so that the patient doesn’t have to come inside. So it’s different. There’s more steps involved.” – Pharmacist Shelia Riesco

“Bird Waving” by kiszka king is licensed under CC BY 2.0

New Jersey is a Covid-19 Hotspot in the US

According to the Center for Disease Control, over 149,000 Covid-19 related cases have been reported in the state of New Jersey. Furthermore, New Jersey is currently listed as one of the top hotspots for the Coronavirus in the United States.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy originally issued a Stay-at-Home Order on 21 March; furthermore, as of last week Governor Murphy has extended the Stay-at-Home order another 30 days.

The Stay-at-Home Order restricts those non-essential workers from going outside their homes. Moreover,  pharmacists are deemed as essential workers during this pandemic, and have had to take extra precautionary measures to ensure everybody’s safety at this time.

Pharmacist Shelia Riesco, who works at an independent pharmacy in Wall Township, New Jersey spoke with me about the challenges she and her colleagues have faced and how they have managed to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

US Pharmacist interview

Pharmacist Shelia Riesco

Pharmacist Riesco said, she and her colleagues do have a system in place to ensure herself, her colleagues, and their customers are kept safe during this pandemic.

“Basically, we have a set up down at the end of the pharmacy for pick up. Only one person is allowed in one at a time, or we can do curb side delivery where we can go out and actually bring stuff to their car, while also wearing our masks and our gloves.

I think they like curb side delivery.”

-NJ Pharmacist Shelia Riesco

“File:MOH COVID-19-A4-store-poster FA.pdf” by New Zealand Government is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Pharmacist Riesco also said, their customers have been very cooperative at this time and have been mindful of the social distancing policies that have been put in place.

“We haven’t had a problem. People seem to understand that they need to stay distant.”

-NJ Pharmacist Shelia Riesco

For pharmacists, they do have to take all of the safety precautions in order to keep the customers and their staff safe, which means they have had to do a lot of things differently in order to do just that.

“It’s a lot different. We have to take credit cards on the phone to pay for everything. We’re allowed to sign Covid, so that the patient doesn’t have to come inside. So it’s different. There’s more steps involved.”

-NJ Pharmacist Shelia Riesco

Who has been the most affected?

Pharmacist Shelia Riesco, also mother of two, said her kids have been most affected as both of them have had to stop going to school, two months earlier than a normal expected school year, while also trying to complete their classes online from home.

“The family has been most affected, especially the kids. They have to stay in inside. They have to do online school. Online schooling is not as easy it seems like it was going to be – they are having troubles with that.”

-NJ Pharmacist Shelia Riesco

Pharmacist Shelia said, she is grateful for the technology that is available, such as Zoom, because it has enabled her kids to keep in touch with their friends.

“Thank God that they are able to Zoom with their friends, because if they didn’t have that I think it would be a lot worse.”

-Pharmacist Shelia Riesco

When the lockdown lifts

When the lockdown does start to ease and Pharmacist Riesco’s pharmacy is able to fully open and allow more customers into the pharmacy, Pharmacist Riesco said that they still plan to take the necessary precautions that are needed in order to keep themselves and their customers safe.

“We are putting up some shields, so that when we are able to actually open the doors and allow more people to come in, we’ll be set up. We are going to have a period of time before this is all settled and we’ll open up, but we will still need to keep some sort of barriers in place for safety. It’s going to be one step at a time.”

-NJ Pharmacist Shelia Riesco

Full interview featured below: To watch the full interview with Pharmacist Shelia Riesco and how else the Covid-19 pandemic has affected her press ▶️ on the video below👇🏻.

Episode Two

This is my virtual one-minute news update of the next story I plan to cover this week! 👀 👇🏻 👀

Enjoy my second episode and leave a comment below 👇🏻 to let me know what you think!!!??!!!

Here is the link to the news story following this news story update: Covid-19: US New Jersey Pharmacist speak out

Covid-19: Asylum seeker and partner provides acts of kindness for others during pandemic

As daily essentials are in high demand during this pandemic, asylum seeker, who has asked to remain anonymous for security purposes, and his partner Liz Hulse provides acts of kindness to assist – those who are vulnerable and the NHS staff – as they struggle to get their essentials.

This asylum seeker moved to the UK 10 years ago and had to claim asylum due to complications with his immigration status ; moreover, his application has been put on hold at this time due to the pandemic. Therefore, to keep himself distracted and to keep his mental health in check, he knew that he had to do something. So, he made a decision to help those who are in need during this pandemic.

“It all started off by just helping the elderly and the vulnerable just down our street. and you know I thought ‘I could easily do that – shopping or picking up prescriptions – just the essential stuff that they shouldn’t be doing, but it has to be done.’

So basically a group of 6 people joined in. We divided our area by every Ward. And every Ward would meet around 8:30 everyday, even if it’s just 15 minutes of work – you know just some shopping for someone.

– Anonymous person who seeks asylum in the UK

The asylum seeker, then heard about how much of a need there was to help  the NHS staff as well with getting their essentials – such as bread, milk, toilet paper, face masks, medications such as paracetamol, and fruit and vegetables.

With this information, he and his partner Liz wanted to further their efforts in continuing to help those in need of assistance during this pandemic; therefore, they organised two Facebook groups –  Help Orphington NHS, which provides the NHS staff with their essentials and the Orphington Covid 19 Mutual Aid, which helps vulnerable people get their essentials as well.

The next thing they knew they needed to do was to seek out for financial assistance with this endeavour; therefore, they reached out to a local business group that helped them get started.

“Then we reached out to a local community group and that kind of took us through commercial levels – which is basically linked to every business in the area – Orphington 1st.”

– Anonymous person who seeks asylum in the UK

Orphington 1st were their first sponsors, in which they gave £1000 towards to help those who are in need during this pandemic. This then lead to Crofton Oak Scouts Hut Trust ,who offered their premises (free of charge) to them and their volunteers for the duration of the pandemic. The Scouts Hut was used as a base for Help Orphington NHS, where basic essentials are set up for the NHS staff to come in, get what they need, get back to work, or to go home.

Curtesy images of Help Orphington NHS – The trustees of Crofton Oak Scout Hut on Crofton Road

The council had a problem with this at first,  but the asylum seeker and his partner Liz assured them that they were following the World Health Organisation procedures and policies to ensure that every volunteer that works there is kept safe. The asylum seeker said, “We were just trying to fill the gap where the council had failed to do so and just wanted to do what we knew needed to be done.”

“We have proper social distancing, which is in place. We have all our volunteers wear masks and glooves. Then we have at the entrances – hand washes and hand sanitizers.”

-Anonymous person who seeks asylum in the UK

Help Orpington NHS

The asylum seeker, said when he and his partner Liz heard that there was a need to help the NHS staff get their daily essentials before and after their shifts, them and their volunteers reached out to the community and got a large amount of support from local farms, caterers, local restaurants, and local supermarkets who are donating to this cause.

Asylum seeker said, anytime they realised they were running low on things and posted it to their Facebook page, they got help  pretty quickly.

“We are getting half a truck full every single day, which is a local shop. And I’m surprised and so amazed that they are checking our post on Facebook. The moment they see we are running low on things – the next day or even the same day we had that.”

– Anonymous person who seeks asylum in the UK

Local supermarkets, such as Iceland, have even set up signs and shopping carts at their stores to help get more donations for the Help Orphington NHS. Local restaurants are even donating lunches for the NHS staff, so that they can just come in, grab a lunch, and get back to work.

Curtesy images from Help Orphington NHS

“The main intention behind that was to restrict the NHS staff before or after their shifts.

They leave the hospital premises – some might go to supermarkets just to buy the essentials – so instead of going to 20 different locations, they can just come to one location, which restricts their movement in general, so that they can come to just one place.”

– Anonymous person who seeks asylum in the UK

NHS staff appreciation

The asylum seeker and his partner Liz, as well as their community, wanted to let the NHS staff know just how much they are appreciated; therefore, on National Nurses Day, they launched a ‘Let’s Bake for the NHS’.

Cakes were sold through an online auction throughout the day on a Sunday and they were delivered to the purchasers homes ‪on Sunday afternoon‬.

All proceeds went to Help Orphington NHS.

Many children even brought the Help Orphington NHS drawings that they made for the NHS staff and they were hung on the wall behind the pastries.

Bakery goods for NHS staff at the Help Orphington NHS

And lastly, Asylum seeker offers some advice for those who are similar circumstances that he is in: 

“Don’t worry about what’s ahead of you. Keep your mental health in place and keep yourself motivated.”

– Anonymous person who seeks asylum in the UK

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Episode One

This is my virtual one-minute news update of one of the stories I plan to cover this week! 👀 👇🏻 👀

Enjoy my first episode and leave a comment below 👇🏻 to let me know what you think!!!??!!!

Here is the link to the news story following this news story update: Covid-19: Asylum seeker and partner provides acts of kindness for others during pandemic

COVID-19 EXCLUSIVE: Frontline NHS Medical Consultant reveals the big picture

“Together we need your support – stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.”

– Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

Newly-assigned doctor steps up to the Covid-19 challenge

As hospitals are filled to full capacity all across the UK, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, 31-year-old Dr. Asif Munaf has stepped up to the role as the Frontline NHS Medical Consultant for the Covid-19 Ward(s), which makes him the youngest medical consultant in the UK. Furthermore, he works in acute medicine all across the East Midlands. Dr. Munaf said, “it’s a great source of pride that I was able to step up for a few weeks as a consultant and actually live my dream of seeing my own patients, having my own team behind me.”

The Coronavirus pandemic is now worldwide and has affected many. According to the World Health Organisation “Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.”

Dr. Munaf said his new role entails “looking after a set of patients on a ward, which is specifically assigned to Covid patients, so that’s a 28 bed ward with patients testing predominantly positive for Covid.” With consideration to the fact that a lot of operations have been cancelled, Dr. Munaf said, “this has opened up a lot of wards, due to the pressures of the viral outbreak.”

“I start off my day by seeing my patients early in the morning, making plans for their future treatments, whether or not they need oxygen, steroids, or antibiotics, or whether they should actually step down and go home” – as they have recovered from the Coronavirus.”

– Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

Due to the nature and the dangers of Dr. Munaf’s new work environment that he is faced with, he has been placed in a hotel, away from his home and family, so that he doesn’t put his family at risk – his wife and two-year old son. Moreover, Dr. Munaf said this experience has made him realise not to take time spent with his family for granted.

“So for me – it’s made me realise it’s about quality, not quantity. So whenever I do get to see my family, it’s very rare and precious to me. So I make sure that my phone’s off, my notifications are off, and I’m fully in the moment.”

– Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

Featured: Family-man and doctor Asif Munaf with his wife and two-year old son

Video featured below: NHS Medical Consultant Dr. Asif Munaf tells more of his new assigned role, what his new role means to him as he also has a minority ethnic background, what he experiences while on duty in the Coronavirus wards, and how this has affected his family – his wife and two-year old son.

Behind the scenes of the Covid-19 Ward

Dr. Asif Munaf said, he and his team had no idea how big this outbreak was going to be so big. He said, “when we heard about this pandemic coming from Wuhan, we thought it would be 10 cases in the UK and that’s it. People who travelled from China recently. We didn’t think it would be all 50,000 cases with 10,000 deaths. We never really anticipated daily of patients coming in April, which is usually a good month.” Furthermore, Dr. Munaf expanded on his new role and how it has been a challenge:

“Every day’s a different challenge. The one thing I’m noticing is that patients are most certainly much more unwell than we initially thought, so patients have a tendency to really get unwell over night.”

– Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

Dr. Asif Munaf said this is unlike any experience a doctor can go though. His daily routine, as a doctor, has changed significantly since he took on the role as the Medical Consultant and he is finding it challenging to comfort his Covid-19 patients, as opposed to his previous patients, because they are alone and their families are not allowed to be with them. This has has added a whole new dynamic to a patient being in ITU  (intensive care unit).

 “I think day-to-day, the reason why patients are coming in is because they have self-isolated for two weeks and they haven’t got any better.

So there’s a real fear there – they’ll ask me, ‘Am I going to die doctor, What’s going to happen to me, What’s going to happen to our families, Can my family come visit?’

It’s a fear that’s never been there before.”

 Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

As Dr. Munaf makes his rounds in the Covid-19 Ward, its so hard for him to see so many of his patients in such distress. Thus, he constantly has to make decisions that are not easy.

“There have been some tough decisions and as a doctor you have to bear in mind the patient’s clinical picture. So for me, just a couple of weeks ago when I first started, the decision was whether to make a patient – end of life – meaning he or she can’t actually go beyond level one and care in other wards.”

Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

The use of CPAP machines to treat the Coronavirus

Dr. Munaf said, many nurses have had to be relocated to the Covid-19 ward(s). Most of these nurses are only surgically trained – looking after drains and post operative problems such as hip replacements; therefore, upon the nurses getting moved into the Covid-19 ward, they have had to get retrained in order to be able to use the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines.

“CPAP Machines” by A.Currell is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

“So for nurses to get trained on CPAP machines, it has been quite a life changing experience.  The medical nurses, the ones that actually dealt with respirattory problems – asthma, bronchitius, they already knew how to use CPAP machines and how to use the settings. But the new nurses, surgical nurses, because operations have been cancelled, they have been reassigned to Covid wards and have been retrained on CPAP use.”

Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

According to the NHS, “a CPAP is the preferred form of non-invasive ventilatory support in the management of the hypoxaemic COVID-19 patient. Its use does not replace invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV), but early application may provide a bridge to IMV.” Furthermore, Dr. Munaf said, he has had to make difficult decisions with regards to the use CPAP machines.

“Difficult decisions for me have been bad because my ward is what we call a level one to level two ward – meaning level one normal medical ward and level two  some of the patients usually 3 or 4 of 28 patients are having CPAP so that’s – continuous positive airway pressure. Tight fitting mask, delivering high full oxygen so that’s level 2 care, level 3 care is ITU (intensive treatment unit). So for me, the decisions primarily have revolved around making decisions for who is kind of age level.”

Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

Doctors mental health

As this pandemic continues, doctors work together as a team and look out for one another. Dr. Munaf said, his colleagues are continuously checking in on each other to make sure they are holding up well during this pandemic and there have been psychiatry professionals reaching out to him and his colleagues.

“I think as doctors and nurses you know we’ve come together. We’re constantly messaging each other – asking ‘how are you doing, do you want time off, how are you feeling about work.’ We’ve had allied health professionals help us out as well. So I’ve had a lot of messages from psychiatrist or psychologist that said, ‘Dr. Munaf if you want any free CBT let me know or if you need PTSD support’. So that’s been very good.”

Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

Video featured below: NHS Doctor Consultant Dr. Asif Munaf tells more of what he experiences day-to-day as patients are testing positive for Covid, what are the difficult decisions he has had to make as a doctor, the shortage of PPE and CPAP machines, nurses getting trained to use the CPAP machines, how has the medical staff been able to manage their stress levels, and what type of things has he learned going through this pandemic.

Dr. Asif Munaf offers the public a message of hope:

“First off I think 2020 will be bad, very bad, but the second half will hopefully be, fingers-crossed, better. Please follow government guidelines on being at home and going out for essentials – and that’s on rare occasion.

Please minimise your shopping trips and if you are out please respect the social distancing guidelines on two metres when you are shopping. Together we need your support – stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.”

Dr. Asif Munaf, NHS Medical Consultant

👇🏻 Watch Video below to hear more from Dr. Asif Munaf on his message of hope to the public during the Coronavirus pandemic👇🏻

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