Alumni networks adapting to a new situation

It is challenging times for all of us. Most of the SI alumni activities planned for spring 2020 have been postponed. While clothes swaps, ploggings and SDG events are put on hold, the SI and Sweden alumni networks have been very creative in finding alternative solutions, not least in helping those in need.

Besides holding online board meetings and fikas, the alumni networks (Brazil and Ukraine) are organising webinars for their members on how to stay safe and healthy, mentally and physically, during the pandemic.

Some are focusing on social media –Sweden Alumni Network Argentina’s alumni spotlight stories is one example where the alumni talk about their experiences from Sweden and the network.

The SI Alumni Network Pakistan is doing what they can to help out. Pakistan is organising a virtual roundtable conference with the theme of Leadership and well-being in the COVID crisis. The discussion aims to give a sense of community to the alumni and discuss the role of civic leaders in the current time and how mental health and e-learning platforms can be utilized to cope with the COVID crisis.

They have also created digital campaigns with awareness videos on preventive measures in different languages. Sonal Dhanani, Chairperson of the Pakistan Alumni Network South, explains the motivation behind it:

– Many SI alumni are from the social sector and have great reach to people, so the network and alumni can help multiply the effect by sharing information in times of crisis. In the beginning of March, all information about the virus had been in English and Urdu only. So I mobilized a few people and launched these awareness videos in regional languages so that people from different communities could understand what the coronavirus is and thereby take preventive measures. When you involve local people speaking in local languages it makes it easy to create an impact and protect the community.

Sonal also launched the campaign “Thank you, warriors”, an initiative delivering food boxes donated by the public to hospital staff or other people that are currently working in the frontline fighting the pandemic.

– Hospital staff working in Pakistan do not have very suitable conditions. Many of them don’t even have personal protective equipment (PPE) gears and are working non-stop to protect citizens. Through the campaign I aim to give them a token of appreciation from the citizens. Money raised from “Thank you, warrior” will be donated to hospitals for PPE gears.

A similar initiative has also been started by Kumar Manish, member of Sweden Alumni Network India and SI Young Connectors of the Future Programme alumni. Kumar is one of members behind “Ahmedabad Fights Corona” – an initiative raising money to help people in need during the 21-day lockdown in India. The campaign is targeting people living on the streets or running small street businesses, daily wagers, or isolated senior citizens, all in need of help to survive the current quarantine.

Thanks to all alumni and networks for all the great initiatives you start and run!