top of page

In the same boat

The state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic drastically transformed the lives of Finns in March 2020. The media representations on pandemic often focused on middle-class families juggling between homeschooling, childcare and working remotely.

 

However, not everyone has supporting structures such as a day job or a family to rely on during difficult times. Socio-economic status and life situation affect the ways people experienced pandemic.

 

Accounts of the life during the pandemic show that many experiences are shared. At the same time, they also make social differences visible.

 

One common saying during the pandemic was that we are all in the same boat but this is not really true. There are many societal inequalities that affected the way people experienced the pandemic. They continue to exist also after the pandemic.

 

Even though COVID pandemic has defined the past years in many ways, it is not the whole image. Life has continued, and moved forward.

Vesa, 79

The chain is as strong as its weakest link.

The COVID-19 situation has not been treated consistently. In Herttoniemi there was an opening of a shopping center and a lot of staff coming to construction sites from abroad. At the same time, the elderly people should not have had any kind of meetings.

The Kinapori service center for elderly was closed for more than 18 months. Contacts with the other members of the retirees’ group have been lost as we haven’t got the contact information for all the friends who we normally see there every week.

I stopped watching TV more than 40 years ago. News is one type of entertainment. When you open the newspaper, the headlines already tell you how irrelevant they are. Repeating the same things. Last year was full of COVID-19 and Trump, not much else.

I feel quite lonely with these thoughts. Others follow what it says in the word. I myself listen to what is being said and observe how things actually are. There is often a difference between them.

Health care has been poor even before theCOVID-19, and now it has gotten worse. A lot of renovation and building new things. Money goes into it and there is no time and money left to take care of people. Doctors treat one ailment at a time, not holistically. I try to do as much as possible on my own. I have learned, for example, to take care of the wounds on my legs myself.

However, I am doing well. This has not always been the case. With that background, I understand other people’s difficulties. At some point, life gets a little awkward for everyone. I am grateful that things are so good now, despite this corona mess.

Khulood, 63

 

In my life, I am used to problems coming and going, growing and shrinking. We just have to endure this, and at some point, it will end.

 

I live with my husband in Helsinki. Our children live in Tampere, the United States and Iraq.

 

COVID-19 is frightening because it is an invisible threat, unlike war. I am particularly worried because I have asthma and coronavirus attacks the lungs and respiratory system.

 

For more than a year, I could not meet my friends face to face, only online and over the phone.

 

I felt like a prisoner. I was just at home. My son sometimes helped us with groceries and running errands, but we rarely saw him either.

 

I try to come up with things to do, clean up and keep busy with different things. Routines help you cope.

 

Once I’ve taken care of the housework, I spend a lot of time writing memoirs. I write my own history, hereditary knowledge, life wisdoms, thoughts on the suffering and hardships of life. It is my legacy for my children. Some people leave their children gold, but I leave these memoirs.

I am really grateful to the Finnish government and to all the professionals involved in the corona crisis for the way things have been handled and everyone has been helped. I’ve been following events around the world, and not every government has acted as skillfully.

 

We will move on from here, together.

Bobby, 41

 

I live alone. I seek opioid substitution treatment from the clinic five mornings a week, from Monday to Friday.

 

Before COVID-19 pandemic, we could spend time with others at the clinic’s lounge but now only on two days a week. Partly due to the pandemic, partly due to staff shortages. It is a pity that the community is closed. For many of us, it is the only community we have.

 

My days are similar and it’s really hard to say what happened on a certain day, for example last Wednesday. At home, I watch TV and sleep. The more I sleep, the better, because sleeping is the only way to get out of this hell. It feels frustrating that my life is over at my forties. That’s why suicide comes to my mind every now and then. However, I can’t do it as long as my grandmother lives.

 

I wake up early. Before leaving home, I watch four news broadcasts every morning, two newscasts on channel 1, two newscasts on channel 3. I wish I had been this thirsty for knowledge as a child, but at the time, I wasn’t interested in anything else than computer games and as a teenager, drinking beer and smoking weed.

 

COVID-19 pandemic has not changed my life very much. For those who are used to being a lot away from home, the situation has certainly been even worse. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be 16-17 years old and not able to spend time with friends. Fortunately, they have smart phones today.

 

I have a reading and writing disorder which has also made it difficult for me to learn to use a computer. In the beginning of pandemic, I got my first smartphone as it became impossible to do anything without internet connection. I learned to fill out unemployment benefit applications online. Once you learn it, it’s easy. And Facebook is a good channel to vent your feelings. Internet truly is almost necessary in modern times.

 

I wish that we will not return to the same patterns as before the pandemic. I mean consumerism and disposable culture. The basic needs of every person on the planet could be met if we really wanted to reach it. I hope Western people would have learned to live with a little less.

 

I feel sad for future generations as the nature has been destroyed. Today’s children should have had a life similar to what we had. I feel ashamed to be a white man in this world that we have ruined.

 

However, things are relatively well in Finland. If you fall, you end up into a safety net. It happened even to me. Without substitution treatment, I would be in prison or dead.

Sasa, 39

 

At the beginning of 2020, I received six treatments of electroconvulsive therapy. The last treatment was finally effective, two weeks before the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic started in Finland. The depression that I had suffered for 22 years was finally gone.

 

For the first time in my adult life, I got to know myself and find out what kind of person I really am. It felt like a light curtain was drawn away in front of my eyes. In a way, things looked the same, but at the same time, they were completely different.

 

I live with my spouse in a 29 square meter studio. As he started to work remotely from home, we had difficulties fitting our daily routines together is such a small space. Now I live weekdays at my my parents’ place and weekends at home. I feel homeless because I move constantly between two places.

 

I have not been lonely during the pandemic like many. On the contrary, I have missed being alone because there has not been opportunity for that. I sometimes close myself in my room at my parents place.

 

I enjoy diamond painting. It takes hundreds of hours to make one piece. It’s a kind of mindfulness, and very necessary in the middle of a pandemic when everything was pretty chaotic and didn’t know what was going to happen. Doing meticulous handicraft helped me to calm down and concentrate.

 

My long-term dream came true in January 2021 when I graduated as a trained expert by experience. I did an internship in the Steppi team of Vantaa Social Services, which is a place with a very low threshold for people who have nothing. Many of them are in the middle of something; waiting for a doctor, therapy, a housing benefit decision, something to move forward in life.

 

It immediately felt like a perfect job for me. In the practice feedback, I was that I have an intuitive ability to ask customers the right questions. As soon as I got the certificate, they offered me occasional job.

 

Finally, part-time work life looms as a realistic future goal in my future. I’m proud to be able to pay taxes from my salary. I finally get to give back to society what it has given me.

Jukka, 61

 

I have lived in a dormitory for four years. I used to live in a rental apartment of the city of Helsinki, but I had to move out because of a fire. I thought this would be just a temporary solution, but it turned out to be permanent.

I don’t like living here. You can’t really plan anything for yourself here, nothing social. Even under normal circumstances, I can invite only certain people to come here but during the pandemic, visits have been restricted even more. I will never get a romantic relationship either, as long as I live here.

I wouldn’t want to die here, and I feel that one dies here much earlier than in a normal apartment.

I got the first shot of corona vaccination in March. All the dormitory residents and instructors received it. The municipality really takes good care of us. In terms of COVID-19, everything has been taken care of very well. It’s so neat, everyone wears masks in the hallways and visits have been restricted.

There have been severe epidemics in other dormitories but in our place, not even one corona infection so far among the residents. Only one of the instructors have had it.

I strongly believe in Jesus. It feels like the heavenly