Archive for May 2020

Mothers in the Time of COVID-19

Rosario, Argentina

Clara and Elina are two members of the Dotsub family from the production and finance teams respectively. They are both new mothers. Born only a month apart, Elina’s Emma is 11 months old and Clara’s Alejo is 10 months. They live in Rosario, Argentina and work from their homes along with their spouses.

Argentina is under one of the strictest lock-down orders in the world with people facing fines and house arrest for violations. People need permission to go to doctor appointments and to get groceries and supplies. (There’s an app for that). You can take your pets for a walk but not your baby out in a stroller.

The lock down is stressful on all involved as there is no outside support. Relatives who would love to entertain the little ones cannot help now. Both households employ nannies that make it possible for both parents to work. Without them, there has to be considerable logistical juggling.  A positive thing is that there hasn’t been a disruption in baby supplies – there is plenty of disinfectant and the diaper service continues.

One sadness is that the babies are in their first year and all of their many milestones cannot be shared with family in person.  Clara says, “They are turning one over Zoom! It is definitely not the same.” Neither baby seems interested in the people on the screen anyway. “My brother came by to deliver something, and we met him in the lobby,” Elina relates, “He had his mask on and stayed a safe distance away. I could tell Emma didn’t recognize him. It is sad.”

The other side of that same coin is that both sets of parents are around to witness baby’s first steps and joyfully relish baby’s first words. Of course, Emma and Alejo are blissfully unaware that things are not normal. They continue to learn to walk and talk and to delight their parents every day.

Stranded

Florence, Tuscany

Amelia is a member of Dotsub’s recruitment team. She is a traveler, although, technically, she is a citizen of Argentina. She along with her partner can spend months at a time on the road renting flats and occasionally staying in hostels. As Amelia works at Dotsub full time, the requirements are a quiet place to work and a robust internet connection.

Leaving Argentina in mid-November 2019, the plan was to be away indefinitely. Visas in place: first Spain for 2 ½ months, then France for three weeks. Italy would follow with 3 weeks in Florence, on to Rome and then a visit with relatives in Northern Italy. From there, they would go to Croatia.

As February turned into March, Amelia was settling into an Airbnb in Florence, Italy. Because their travel had been by land, they had not experienced any of the chaos of air travel at the time.

Within a week, things had turned for the worse. Most harrowing was an evening stroll in lovely Florence that abruptly ended with police cars patrolling the streets with loud speakers blasting messages in Italian that our travelers didn’t understand. Although they could get information from the web and from their relatives, not understanding the local messages was very unsettling. Italy shut down on March 9th. Suddenly, all the careful planning was off the table.

Living out of a suitcase for years at a time is a deep commitment. Amelia states, “We’ve made the choice to experience the journey knowing that we are sacrificing the comforts of home.” At this writing, she is still stranded thousands of miles from Argentina. In spite of the recent pandemic, I don’t think that her travel adventures are over.

Isolation at Home

Northern Italy
Veneto Region

One member of our development team lives in Northern Italy, which for a time was the alarming epicenter of the outbreak. The initial reaction among family and friends was skepticism. How could this be happening here?  

For Francesco, his wife Giulia, and their 18-month old son, Davide, life is still far from normal. Francesco has been working from home as he often does. Of special concern is that Giulia is a health care professional working in a COVID-19 designated hospital. At first, the personal protective equipment (PPE) was running low, but now things are better. Once fully suited she resembles an astronaut.

Very early on, they decided that they were not going to go to extreme efforts to isolate from each other. It just wasn’t practical to try to keep Davide away from his mother! In fact, if they were going to get into trouble it would be together. There was a very strict crack down on being outside. Giulia and Davide were walking together in a nearby vineyard when they were stopped by police! Luckily, they could point to the house and were not fined. Imagine!

Francesco reports that the disruption that is the hardest to bear is not being able to see family – especially when you have a toddler. But the more mundane tasks like going to the market or pharmacy are more difficult. You need a pass to go out on errands. Then when you get to the market they don’t have what you need, like flour. [Ed note: Francesco was the first to warn me about flour shortages – it hadn’t happened in the U.S. yet] “Of course we need flour,” says Francesco, “We are Italian!”