20 global stories of community
Across the rich diversity of cultures worldwide, one tradition we’ve often shared is to connect, celebrate and show hospitality through food, entertainment and acts of generosity.
Although COVID-19 has disrupted many of these long-held rituals, people around the world have rallied and found new ways to build and celebrate community, create safe spaces of welcome together and support one another.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Neighbour Day, Relationships Australia’s social connection campaign, we’ve gathered 20 of these good news stories to share with you.
- In Australia, Dr Catherine Barrett launched #TheKindnessPandemic initiative online, to call for action to improve the lives of others and ‘celebrate the many unsung, unassuming, unpaid stalwarts of the community.’ – The Kindness Pandemic
- In Singapore, over 1700 children put together care packages with custom thank you notes for frontline doctors in 853 clinics island-wide. – Singapore Kindness Movement
- In Germany, a fundraising campaign for DJs and clubs evolved into a global, online cultural platform and streaming initiative, designed to fundraise, support arts and culture, and keep people dancing. – United We Stream
- In South Africa, a community of Somali business people and former-refugees launched a care and compassion campaign, distributing masks, hand sanitiser and food parcels to people struggling during stay-at-home lockdowns. – UNHCR
- In the UK and across the world, as food prices and shortages increased, people began home gardening and sharing seeds, gardening tips and fresh produce with their neighbours and online communities. One resident commented, ‘The pandemic has cemented in my mind the need to be growing more food, not just for my own family and to save money, but for the wider community.’ – BBC
- In Pakistan, community members offered food, money and other support to people experiencing poverty and homelessness during the pandemic, and many offered ‘zakat, the traditional Muslim charity tax, for daily wage earners who have no paid leave, health insurance or financial safety net.’ - BBC
- Across Italy and wider Europe, people gathered on their balconies at the same time each day to sing and share music with their neighbours. ‘We turn up the volume, dance at the window and wave to our neighbours across the piazza. In just two weeks, this 18:00 tradition has become fundamental to our daily routine and spread across Italy, becoming the country’s new national pastime to spread hope and boost morale.’ – BBC
- Residents in Ireland found a new and novel way to socialise, launching Balcony Bingo and calling out the numbers via a loud speaker. – Irish Central
- In Malaysia, the #KitaJagaKita (we look out for one another) initiative was launched to match people who want to help with people in need. ‘"We’re ordinary people. But I think that’s an important thing to note. That when ordinary people come together and focus all their talents and passion and compassion onto one purpose, there is so much you can do,” says founder Hanna Alkaf.’ – TheStar
- In Nuuk, Greenland, a soup kitchen which usually provides around 40 meals per week, mobilised additional community volunteers to provide 60 to 90 meals per day to people experiencing food insecurity during COVID-19 lockdowns. – Steven Arnfjord, Sage Publications
- As the demand for home delivery services skyrocketed, Koreans left handwritten thank you notes and sometimes small gifts for delivery workers. ‘In Korean culture, a handwritten thank you is a deeper sign of gratitude than a verbal or emailed thank you. The Korea Times once quoted a member of a Korean linguistic association as saying, “Our ancestors believed handwritten letters showed a person’s emotions.”’ – BBC
- Canadians started a ‘caremongering’ movement to create a ‘contagion of kindness’, combat scaremongering and connect vulnerable people with local supports. – BBC
- Vietnamese community members organised initiatives and charities including ‘free rice ATMs’ to provide free food and essentials to struggling families. – The Conversation
- Across Spain (and many other countries), people took to their balconies each night to give a shared round of applause for healthcare workers. – Condé Nast Traveler
- In Chile and Argentina, an all-women team of lawyers, who are committed to eradicating gender-based violence, organised a volunteer campaign to empower woman and different gender identities and enable single mothers in lockdown with children to access groceries and other support during the pandemic. – United Nations Argentina
- After public schools in Nigeria closed to combat the spread of COVID-19, a teacher began offering free, online maths lessons to support 12th grade students preparing for their final exams. She also paid for data for some students who didn't have access to their internet, to enable them to be online. – AP News
- In Ukraine, as #StayAtHome messaging became widespread, an online awareness and fundraising campaign was launched to support people experiencing homelessness, using a hashtag that in Ukrainian translates to #ImStayingOnTheStreets. – Prague Civil Society
- Women across Iran sewed medical masks and gowns for frontline COVID-19 health care workers, with one individual saying, ‘We started doing this voluntarily. We wanted to have a role in responding to this pandemic. As time went by, since the quality of our work was high, we started receiving orders. It gives me a good feeling to know that I am supporting those in the frontline, while at the same time supporting my own family.’ – UNDP Iran
- In Indonesia, a 24-year-old doctor started a free telemedicine service to help diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients who were unable to access health care. Dr Irawan received over 800 requests in the first 2 weeks after launching the service. – BBC News Indonesia
- Ash Dargan, Larrakia Saltwater man and RAV's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Specialist, ran Dadirri (deep listening) online sessions for local Elders in Victoria, Australia, every 2 weeks as a touch-in space to debrief, remain connected and practise a cultural form of mindfulness and connection to the land.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship, are impacted by family violence, or need additional mental health support, visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au/getting-help
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or danger, call emergency services on 000 (triple zero).
This post does not constitute professional advice. It is for informational purposes only.