In a time where we are constrained to our homes while the world is suffering, the only thing we can do is peer through the world with our phones and computers as our window, watching the news go by while we stay at home. With headlines going from bad to worse, we can only feel gratitude towards our health and position of safety – however paralysed quarantine life may make us feel. 

As a student safely in Singapore, I can’t ignore the mental and physical disaster across the world whilst I am in the sanctuary of my home. While I log into online school every morning, there are millions struggling to pay rent, facing unemployment, and worrying where they will find their next meal. The crisis of our global state has never made me feel so helpless, there isn’t a band-aid big enough I could use to cover the scar the pandemic has had on our planet and I –  a seventeen year old girl stuck at home – has never felt so small. 

Yet, while I can’t prescribe a cure to the global suffering, perhaps I could try to ease just a bit of its pain. 

I often find that we diminish our abilities in the interest of ‘being realistic,’ however, in a time where reality doesn’t even seem real, perhaps I could risk thinking ‘unrealistically.’ In doing so, I set out two main goals: I wanted to help as many people, as soon as possible. 

That particular week, I had read a Guardian article titled “People are more scared of hunger: coronavirus is just one more threat in Nigeria’. In a time where the world ‘fear’ feels so heavy, doing something to alleviate it has never felt so important. 

In the name of ‘thinking unrealistically’ I decided to contact as many multinationals operating in Nigeria as I could, telling them that I wanted to provide food and sanitation to 100,000 people in villages of Nigeria. And while I was optimistic, I did not expect over half them to respond within 48 hours, confirming their willingness to support the mission. Nor could I have anticipated the truckloads of food, hand sanitizers, drinks, and soaps that would be sent over to hospitals and villages in Nigeria. 

With the academic year drawing to a close, I was worried that I was ‘losing’ months off of my school experience to quarantine. I was worried that life at home would cancel out the prospect of gaining new experiences and learning about the world around me. 

However, conducting this project showed me how wrong I was.

From a logistical standpoint, it taught about the functionings of multinationals and the distribution process. Whether it was coordinating food supplies, hospital demands, delivery or truck schedules – I loved every minute of having the passenger’s seat of a running company. 

Seeing the plan come to life taught me firsthand the change we can make just with an idea and a keyboard. Communicating through emails makes everything seem ‘virtual’ and isolated from the real world, however, while the whole project doesn’t seem tangible to me, looking at the pictures of people in the Nigerian villages collecting bars of soap and food for their families showed how ‘thinking unrealistically’ very quickly became real. 

Whether you’re a student, parent, working professional or teacher, let’s not let the pandemic limit our thinking.

Let’s think unrealistically, 

Anushka Chanrai