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Working During An Armed Conflict

Working during an armed conflict

As many of you have seen in the news, peaceful Ecuador was seriously disturbed on January 9th, when armed men took hostages during a live TV show. The same day, various shootings and violent incidents happened, prison guards were taken hostage, police officers were kidnapped, and the president declared the state of internal armed conflict (the country was already a few days in the state of emergency, after a gang leader had escaped from prison).

The immediate response was to close everything and have everyone shelter in place at home. In the subsequent days, some businesses opened again.

University started the first week with online classes, and schoolchildren were sent home – first with homework, then with a combination of parent-assisted tasks and virtual classes, and then with more virtual classes.

For day-to-day life, the whole situation feels a bit like the beginning of the pandemic again for me. I am teaching online, working from home, and at the same time trying to help my daughter with her tasks and help her log in to her Teams meetings. Chaos is prevalent.

Unlike the pandemic, however, this time, business are reopening. Administrative personnel of university are required to work from university and cannot work from home. Parents are torn between having to go in to work but also having no childcare.

It feels as if there is a dichotomy in society between those with and without kids. Those of us with kids are feeling as if it is the worst of the pandemic again and are struggling to juggle everything, and those without kids are going back to work, restaurants, and the gym. My colleagues internationally are of course also not going through the same issue, as this situation is only for Ecuador.

It feels somehow more lonely than during the pandemic – now it is only school-aged children who are sheltering in place and suffering the consequences, and parents of school-aged children who are shouldering the schooling. The solidarity of the pandemic, when everyone was in the same lockdown, is not happening.

Let’s see how things evolve in the country. For now, I am getting almost no work done, and I am starting the year Behind on Everything.

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