Women of the Pandemic: We must remember some of the lessons learned and not take our lives for granted, says ElsaMarie D'Silva

In HerStory’s Women of the Pandemic series women share their experiences and learnings from this crisis in their own words. Here's social entrepreneur ElsaMarie D'Silva's account.

Very early on, I realised that the pandemic was going to affect us for a long time, at least till December 2020 where we would have limited mobility within the city, country and globally.

So I prepared my team and myself for the long haul. We invested in our mental and physical health, upgraded our online facilitation skills and experimented with new methodologies to engage people in our advocacy on gender rights and prevention of sexual violence in all its forms.

Personally, I had a hectic travel schedule pre-COVID, so I used the time to create a personal wellness plan. I started an exercise routine everyday online, encouraged my larger network to join in a 500 Suryanamaskar challenge every alternate month, hosted fun events like TEDxVersova, Daily/Sunday reflections and Safecity Active Saturdays. I even hosted my first podcast series beliEVE showcasing the stories of incredible women who have achieved great heights despite the odds. 

Dealing with the pandemic meant staying positive and surrounding myself virtually with love. Creating a daily routine was very important. Getting out of bed, exercising and then dressing up for my first “daily reflection” live series helped set the tone for the day. Since all of us were housebound globally, I was able to have a daily chat with my three young nieces in Melbourne, Australia and Singapore. Those conversations helped bond us despite the distance as they could call me whenever they wanted to chat. We underestimate how hard it is for the children to be stuck at home and not being able to meet their friends. I am happy that I could be there for my nieces virtually at least.

We may choose to look at the negative impact of COVID-19 but for me it was a welcome pause from my hectic travel. It helped me refocus on what was important in my life. I believe I regained control of my time, reinvested in my purpose, strengthened my organisation and reenergised relationships even if it was using virtual modes of communication.

Post COVID-19, I would like to believe that we will remember some of these lessons learned and not take our lives for granted. We are indeed privileged and must use our position and power to ensure that our world is just, equal, inclusive and sustainable. That’s what I am going to focus on.