Social Distancing When We Are Socially Connected

COVID-19 has thrust so many from different countries to be on alert. Every day, the rules and regulations from different governments are changing, not just in the United States, but on a global level.

When this virus made its presence known in December in Wuhan, China, I heard about its existence from various news outlets, but at that point, it was a disease that was affecting people in China, not the United States. Even when I heard that the virus had affected passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, I was concerned for them, but didn’t think it would ever affect my neck of the woods; and I was so wrong.

When the virus hit Italy and the number of casualties kept getting higher, as well as fear of its spread to other countries, I started to wonder how we, as a country, would we react? I got my answer when the first confirmed case came from someone who lives in New York, not far from where my brother-in-law lives.

The result affected me in waves of disbelief and fear. Disbelief that this virus had made its way to my state and affected a whole community, and fear for how many more people would become casualties from one person. Since the confirmation of this person’s sickness a few weeks ago, his community has been on lockdown and continues to be so, making it impossible for my brother-in-law and his fiancé to leave.

As the number of casualties continues to rise, businesses, schools, and the economy have been affected, not just here in the States, but globally. My daughter is just one among thousands whose schools have been mandated to close for a few weeks or longer and continue their schoolwork remotely. While my daughter is able to continue learning remotely, others are not as fortunate.

As for my husband and I, we have been affected by this virus in a circuitous way. We had plans on attending a family member’s Bat Mitzvah in New York last week along with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and nephew in tow. Upon learning that New York had become a hot spot for COVID-19 and more people were testing positive from this virus, my husband and daughter thought it best that we cancel our trip because my mother-in-law and I have compromised health issues. While I was initially disappointed and sad that we couldn’t be with our daughter and extended family for this special occasion, I knew that it was the right decision to make.

We thought we had dodged the virus until we found out that my sister-in-law’s ex-husband may have come in contact with someone who had tested positive for the virus. While my mother-in-law and I did not have any physical contact with him, my husband and sister-in-law did when they had to pick up my nephew from him in North Carolina. The intention was to have my nephew drive up with us for the Bat Mitzvah, before we decided not to go. Up until we found out about my ex-brother-in-law’s situation a few days ago, my husband and I were busy showing our family our new home and neighborhood.

The news of his possible contact impacted us differently. My husband, who had never been a doomsday believer went out to the stores and bought enough food to last us for a few weeks. In addition, he also installed a Purell dispenser in our bathroom so we could all use it as needed. As for me, the thought of not having my daughter living in the same state as us worried me. I started to realize that this crisis has no end date and we are all affected, one way or another.

In light of how this virus has affected us locally and globally, the idea of “social distancing” has become a necessity. For someone like me who loves to be around people, I thought social distancing would be hard to do; that it would make me stir crazy to have restrictions of socializing with people other than my family. I was wrong.

Social distancing is allowing me to be mindful of how I act around other people. It is helping me become aware of how my actions affect those around me and my community. Others may look at social distancing as punishment, but for me, it is a way to slow down and realize that doing this one action could help reduce the spread of the virus. I don’t know how long or how many more people will be affected by COVID-19, but I do believe that social distancing is one way of refocusing the way we think about this virus, those affected by it and how we move forward from it.

This is an original post by Tes Silverman written for World Moms Network.

World Voice Editor

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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Social Distancing is Kindness: #FlattenTheCurve


Americans are known for our spirit of rugged individualism. We love to celebrate individual creativity, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and volunteerism. It can be inspiring!

Except when it comes to fighting a global pandemic.

The United States is a few weeks behind China, South Korea, Italy, and other countries hard hit by COVID-19. We’re now experiencing a national test to see if individualism will overcome the need for us to fall in line and adopt personal habits of social distancing to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. 


The plea from health experts for self-isolation distancing goes directly against a basic stubbornness to think, “I have the right to do as I please and you can’t stop me!”
But I believe that at our core, Americans are compassionate, too. Together, we can turn an attitude of forced isolation to one of solidarity in kindness. Part of that will be the spread of information and stories to ignite our collective compassion.


The Science of #FlattenTheCurve

It’s now too late to stop the spread of the corona virus, so we need to take every precaution to SLOW the spread. When people use the phrase “Flatten the Curve,” they’re talking about a graph representing the number of daily cases over time. This graph from the CDC illustrates the goal of social distancing: a reduction in the outbreak’s peak. We want to slow the spread of the virus, so a sudden increase doesn’t overwhelm our ability to respond.

The most important part of the graph is the location of the peak relative to the line showing the limits of our health care system. The worst case of a big spike in COVID-19 would be health care rationing! 


The Need for Kindness

In the U.S., crossing that health care line would be especially alarming because it tends to be our wealthy that get access to any scarce resource even before low-income folks who might need it more. High-risk medical populations and people experiencing poverty would be most in danger. The virus would spread quickly through people unable to self-isolate, including hourly employees without savings and homeless populations.


Isn’t it the most noble thing we can do…to use our personal actions to protect the most vulnerable? Isn’t it an exercise in kindness to protect the lives of our elders, our neighbors in ill health, and people struggling through this crisis in poverty?


Stephen and April

Folks are worried. They’re scared and asking for our help. Read two stories from my friends who depend on our actions and herd immunity to keep them safe.


Steven lives in Syracuse, NY, and is awaiting a kidney for transplant. I follow him on Twitter because the way he expresses his love of his family, Disney, and video games. He also tweets about what life is like waiting every day for a kidney donor.


Steven says:

“For me, I worry about being able to get dialysis as well as my increased potential for infection due to being immunocompromised. In all those articles where they talk about the people most at risk…well, that’s me. 


I’ve fought for so long to survive for my family. I don’t want to get sick and have to try and fight this…and if I have to go to the hospital, can I get dialysis? Will they be too overwhelmed? See, I can’t put off dialysis. It’s not something I can stop doing for a while. I HAVE to do it. Or I die. So, I worry about that. Then I worry about being able to pay our bills. We’re stretched as thin as butter over too much bread as it is. We’re not sure if my wife can work the next few weeks, either. And my “safety cushion” savings got used up long ago.”


April of St Louis, MO is one of the strongest women I know and not just because she’s my Taekwondo instructor! She’s not a complainer. When injured, pushes through pain as she performs jump kicks and other physically demanding feats in our workouts. Most people wouldn’t think she’s medically at risk.


April says:

“I’m really tired of how little concern some people are showing for those of us who would contract a serious case of COVID-19 and could die from this. Your jokes about the flu also are not comforting or funny. I end up in the hospital every flu season. I won’t be one of the “mild” cases, so when you make fun of those of us who are showing concern and taking caution, you’re showing me you really don’t care about my well-being. Please stop. I am scared and if you can’t be a decent human being and empathize with those of us who aren’t as lucky and healthy as you are, please just do us all a favor and don’t say anything at all.


What Can We Do?

Author Cindy Wang Brant posted an image of this brainstorming exercise a family did with “Family Quarantine of Love” written on top to remind them that these sacrifices are acts of love. 

This is an original post written by Cynthia Changyit Levin for World Moms Network.

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin is a mother, advocate, speaker, and author of the upcoming book “From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.” A rare breed of non-partisan activist who works across a variety of issues, she coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. She advocated side-by-side with her two children from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mother. Cynthia’s writing and work have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, the Washington Post, and many other national and regional publications. She received the 2021 Cameron Duncan Media Award from RESULTS Educational Fund for her citizen journalism on poverty issues. When she’s not changing the world, Cynthia is usually curled up reading sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books in which someone else is saving the world.

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Discrimination Due To Menstruation

Discrimination Due To Menstruation

Universally, women and girls menstruate. The age may vary for every young girl, but the experience can be traumatic, sometimes even deadly.

I recently came upon two news items that shocked and saddened me. The first story was of an 11-year-old girl from the UK who had her period while in school. When she asked to be excused to go to the bathroom because her period had soaked through her clothes, she was refused by two staff members on two separate occasions. 

The young girl was trying to avoid being singled out by the rest of her class, possibly the whole school. Instead of being supported by the staff, she was dismissed, which traumatized her from going back to school. Since those incidents, the girl has been given a bathroom pass, but the damage had been done. According to a study done by Plan International UK back in 2017, 49% of girls and young women aged 14-21 have missed at least one day of school as a result of their period. In addition to being humiliated for having a period and pain as a result of it, the cost of buying sanitary products may be prohibitive. Period poverty in the UK affects about 10% of girls who can’t afford them and 12% find ways to create makeshift sanitary wear just to have something. There have been initiatives launched like the Red Box Project based in Bristol, where period products are given for free, but more has to be done to eliminate the discrimination felt by girls and women who are affected.

The second story was about 21-year old Parbati Borgati from Nepal who was staying in a menstrual hut during her period and died of suffocation from smoke inhalation. Borgati who had been staying in this abandoned hut decided to keep warm one cold night by burning wood and clothing and tragically died in her sleep. Menstrual huts are not unusual for women in some parts of Nepal, India, and Africa and the concept of these huts comes from years of tradition and in some cases, out of religion.

The tradition of “chhaupadi” In Nepal is part of a long-standing belief stemming from Hinduism that during a woman’s menstrual cycle, she is deemed unclean. As part of this tradition, women are banned from being in the kitchen, using kitchen utensils, sharing meals, going to the temple or being with their families, and are segregated to huts made from mud or stone. The huts are no bigger than closets and these women brave the elements and pests on their own. 

In recent years, women’s rights activists have fought to end “chhaupadi”.  Even the government of Nepal has outlawed menstrual huts since 2005. They have gone so far as to criminalize it this past August for those who continue to force women to use them, but unfortunately in some western villages of Nepal, these actions have not been as successful. While tradition can be blamed for the continuity of their use, guilt plays a huge part in it as well. In areas where menstrual huts have been used by women for generations, it is difficult for them to turn their backs on what’s been viewed as part of their way of life. 

One of the ways that “chhaupadi” is being discouraged is through cash incentives. Recently, a rural governor has offered to give $5,000 rupees to any woman who rejects using menstrual sheds. While it seems like a great solution, it’s not sustainable since so many still use these sheds out of tradition and fear of being ostracized by their families for not following this custom.

My experience with menstruation did not result in tragedy, but it was still traumatizing for a thirteen-year-old girl. I was on a family vacation when I got my period while playing outdoors with my cousins. I felt some discharge on my underwear and thought I had soiled myself. I ran to the bathroom and was gripped with fear when I saw blood on my underwear, unaware of what was happening to me. It wasn’t until my aunt knocked on the bathroom door to see if I was okay that I told her about the blood. It was then that I was educated about “periods” and what I should do next and in the future. 

Why was I told about “periods” by my aunt, as opposed to my mother? As someone whose mother came from the Philippines, the word “period” was never discussed in her household, so I was never educated about it by my mother. This was a silent “problem” and no one was allowed to talk about it to anyone, especially men. Gender roles play a big part in a lot of Filipino families, and “periods” are seen as female problems. While there have been strides over the years to ensure that young women in rural parts of the Philippines are educated about menstruation as those living in urban areas, the perception of having a “period” is still seen as a woman’s problem. 

In light of last year’s Academy Awards event in the US  where the award for Best Foreign Film was given to a documentary short made in India titled, “Period. End of a Sentence.”, there has been a great amount of awareness brought towards the issue of menstruation. Created by Rayka Zehtabchi, the film showed how menstruation is still a taboo subject in rural parts of India and that even the word “period” evokes shame for girls and ignorance for boys. Education about menstruation plays a huge part in breaking the taboo it has affected generations of girls and boys. What struck me was how the girls reacted towards the word as opposed to the boys. The girls were painfully self-conscious saying the word, while the boys were quite unaffected by the issue, even worse, had no idea what the word “period” meant.

The film follows some women in rural Hapur district, just outside of Delhi, India, and exposes the contradicting points of view regarding menstruation between genders and as seen by older generations, but there were positive results as well. Discussing the subject of menstruation and the necessity of safe menstrual products like pads was crucial for both genders. Another positive outcome of the film was creating job opportunities for these women so they could feel empowered. That opportunity would come from an unlikely source, a man named Arunachalam Murugunantham from Tamil Nadu. 

When Muruganantham found out that his wife was using newspapers or filthy rags for her period, he decided to create sanitary pads that were safe and could be purchased at a low cost. Muruganantham created a pad machine that made sanitary pads using cellulose fibers from pine wood pulp, which was great for absorption and retaining the pad’s shape. Traditionally, men have never been involved with anything related to menstruation, especially in rural parts of India, so it’s no surprise that Muruganantham’s wife, Shanti, was not supportive of his invention in the beginning.

Muruganantham’s goal of educating young women about safe sanitary pads through his pad machine and the rise of a micro-economy from selling them in local stores at a low cost has given these women the confidence to provide for their families. It was amazing to see the transformation of these women from being shy and silent about the topic of “periods” to feeling empowered and ready to provide for themselves and their communities as a result of Muruganantham’s invention. 

The success of “Period. End of Sentence.” is an indication that more has to be done to enlighten parts of the world about menstruation. In today’s world where women from Western countries can speak freely about reproductive health, it’s heartbreaking to see other women that are still suppressed either by tradition or guilt to speak out about issues that harm them or lose their lives, just like the women who died in the menstrual huts. It is my hope that this film continues to break gender inequity, not just in India but in other parts of the world where women are banished just because they have their period. No woman deserves to feel invisible or worse, lose their life due to a lack of education, especially about their bodies.

To read the articles regarding this post, click below:

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/bristol-schoolgirl-period-refused-toilet-uk/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=US_Jan_17_2019_content_digest_template_test_single_image

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/nepal-woman-period-death-fire-hut-menstruation-hut-illegal-parbati-bogati-a8760911.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/12/17/787808530/menstrual-huts-are-illegal-in-nepal-so-why-are-women-still-dying-in-them

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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