Signs of Strength From an Unprecedented Year
People everywhere showed resilience and poise in 2020 as they faced down a pandemic that left few unaffected.View Team
Published December 20, 2020
Some years pass with a collective shrug, monotonous and unremarkable. 2020 was not one of them.
One event rarely impacts the entire world, forcing us all to behave differently. The pandemic brought out deep insecurities and surprising moments of humanity. The seemingly unconquerable coronavirus wrenched families apart even as it united people across the globe, who responded with ingenuity and grace. Here are scenes of that strength from a year like no other.
Tegshjargal Baatarchuluun sprays disinfectant from a truck in Mongolia’s Umnugovi province, sanitizing the street below. Nearly 60 people assisted the local government in decontaminating roads and other public areas in the spring.
Tegshjargal, a veterinarian, says his experience working with disinfectants and chemicals made him a good fit to help. Mongolia was one of the first countries to secure borders and close schools when the outbreak struck.
A New Kind of Entertainment
Shinebayar Narankhuu livestreams a piano lesson from Play Music, a music store in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital. The store came up with the idea for free online instruction to help entertain customers during the coronavirus lockdown.
Allan Crhistian Covarrubias, a parish priest in Tecámac, northeast of Mexico City, gives Sunday Mass via livestream. The government canceled religious events in March due to the coronavirus. Officials lifted that restriction in May but limited the number of people who could gather. So online services have continued at the church, Natividad de la Virgen María.
Kahambu Kunateka and her husband, Kasereka Kolinzo, fled with their six children to a field in Democratic Republic of Congo to escape the coronavirus. Some in the country’s easternmost region fear the virus more than other dangerous threats, from mosquito-borne illnesses to attacks from local armed groups — which are less terrifying, they say, because they are known entities.
Passengers wait in line to wash their hands at the Jaffna Central Bus Station in northern Sri Lanka. Officials installed temporary facilities to encourage regular hand-washing.
Mbabazi James, from left, Selubidde Elvis and Okello Patrick clean the roof of a house in a suburb of Kampala, Uganda’s capital. Homeowner Musasizi Monday turned off the home’s water supply to save money during the pandemic. The eight people who share the home now live off rainwater collected through its gutters.
Regularly cleaning the roof keeps impurities out of the water, Musasizi says. “Instead of spending on the water, we can use that money to [eat] since we are always at home and we need food.”
The three day laborers had been short on work during the pandemic. The two-day job was expected to provide each worker with food for four days.
Sharellie Vega passes ice cream to Juan Rivera, center, and Estefanie Figueras at an ice cream shop in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital. The business has stayed open during the pandemic by turning a side gate into a service window.
A program in Mexico City sought to stave off pandemic loneliness by linking dogs and people. The adoptions, coordinated by a local shelter and an advertising agency, were supposed to be temporary. But, for many, the matches have become permanent.
When the group told Berenice Ortega the dog was on the way, she bought a bed, a doghouse and “lots of other things,” she says. She named her Bruna.
“When I’m really stressed, I go to Bruna and hug her, I take her out, we play,” Ortega says. “I calm down a lot.”
Jeremiah Gwate washes his hands at the gate to his homestead in Gungwe, a village in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland South province. Gwate made the hand-washing station by wiring a plastic bottle to a stick, and then stepping on the stick to tilt the bottle.