At the end of the six week digital diary recording, the TEGAs report that they all felt happy to be part of the COVID-19 Digital Diaries project. Apart from the project keeping them busy when they are in lockdown or under stay-at-home order, the girls are mostly happy to be asked about their own experiences and to reflect on their lives. The TEGAs hope that the insights they have provided will be published and something useful will come out of it. Jannat from Bangladesh says;
“As a result, at least one individual may even be benefited from a single piece of information of mine. And it may be of great value to that person if it comes to any use to him.”
Similarly Marisol in the US hopes that her diary entries spark a sense of community among girls and provide comfort and support to others who may feel like she does during the pandemic.
“I imagine I am just speaking to a community of girls, who and feel and do much of the things that I do…These videos would help them not feel alone, that they are not alone.”
TEGAs from Malawi are mostly concerned about misinformation around COVID-19 which is causing people to engage in reckless behavior. Merci wants the information she provided to be shared widely so that people are well informed and stay protected.
“What I would want to share with you is that people should know that COVID-19 is in existence if the information can spread further. We know that this week the figure in Malawi has reached 82. It is increasing now and then so some people are saying that it is not here and they are recklessly moving around. They have forgotten about it. they should know that it is there and they need to protect themselves. Yes, there is no lock down here but they need to protect themselves and others.”
While it’s clear that all the TEGAs share anxieties about their livelihoods, they also want to show that some people might have privileges that others don’t have. Shiyona from India would like people to understand that those with limited means are further affected by the lockdown and the governments need to do more:
“I would like that you should share these things with other organizations at a higher-level because till now everyone is thinking that everything is going on very smoothly and during the lockdown, everything is easily available to everyone or everybody is treated well but in reality, nothing is like that and the perhaps the poor people haven’t raised voice against this. Even they are living their lives by managing and the governments are saying that they have done everything for the betterment of poor people. These things happen at a lower level it is necessary to let them know that what they are doing is not actually working so they can improve those prevailing conditions and let the citizens be more aware and they should take more initiatives if they can.”
On the other hand, Nishi from Bangladesh thinks that words are as helpful as concrete measures:
“What happens people can’t always be helped with money but there comes some time when we can help people with our words. So, the thing is, somebody may be benefited from our words or be encouraged, or get some tips for surviving during the pandemic. So, considering those too and reviewing our words, it should be published in such a way which would benefit people.”
US TEGAs focus on unity and mindfulness during these special times. Even though everyone’s experience is different and unique, the girls would like people to see that the world needs to come together. Sofia from the US states that regardless of gender, race and nationality, everyone is going through hardships in education, work and mental health:
“So I’m very excited to see how similar we are and to show people that. We might be thousands and thousands miles away but we are still one.”
Christine draws attention to the choices humans make and how this experience of lockdown and pandemic can be used to reflect on ourselves and better the world:
“I think that we need to be mindful about the power that we have as human beings. And we need to use our intelligence and all of our capabilities to build something better than ourselves and not some mess of greed and just fear and anger.”
The unifying theme for the TEGAs across all five countries is that they all want the insights they have provided to be shared in some form and be utilised for effective action in the future – whatever that might bring. As Emma from the US states, these are their messages to the world:
“You know when you send a message in a bottle and you throw it into the ocean, this feels like that.”