As many of our daily functions have changed over the course of the pandemic, I have constantly been reminding myself on how to compose myself and find happiness in the smallest of things. Not going to lie, NYC has been hit hard by the pandemic and working within the city’s largest health system it has been very draining emotionally and physically. I am a what I like to call, “non-essential, essential” employee. I am not a provider, but have been working closely on mitigating the COVID response across our seven hospitals for various teams. I am very fortunate to have the privilege of working in the comfort of my own home while having the ability to scroll through my social media feed for bizarre TikTok videos. It helped the “year” of March pass. Jokes aside, I started grew more concerned about my community as cases started multiplying.
I grew up in the city and could already calculate how it would adversely impact the Bengali community. Many Bengali families are low-income, and are in co-living situations — where two or more families will share an apartment. Social distancing is a privilege that many immigrant families cannot afford. Having these anxious, driven feelings, I decided to do some public outreach on Instagram to crowd source a group of individuals to help disseminate information out to the Bangla-speaking community. The response to join forces simply humbled me. We all resonated with each other. Within the last 4-5 weeks, I was able to put together the Bangla Health Collective, which has 10 active members, we have had many Zoom meetings going into the late hours of the night, produced videos, and shared content on food security, public benefits, proper donning and doffing of PPE, to dealing with rent/unemployment.
On top of my day job, managing community health is another full-time job. But I know I cannot stop here. News outlets have reported the Bengali community being highly vulnerable (with over 100 deaths in the NYC area in a span of a few weeks) along with Black, Hispanicm and Latino communities. Slowly the numbers of new cases and deaths are decreasing, but they are not at the rates we need them to be. The last few weeks have taught me how community is essential for us to cultivate, and our collective resilience is needed (with our much needed mental health breaks!). For sure, it will take some time for all of this to pass, but I do know there is a small yet glowing light at the end of this seemingly long tunnel.