• The Centre for Inclusive Leadership

Paul Walsh Interview about the impact of COVID in Brazil

We've been talking about how COVID has impacted on our colleagues in the UK but we have colleagues based around the globe who may well have had a different experience of the pandemic and we wanted to highlight what coronavirus might have looked and felt like around the world. Our Head of Digital Paul Walsh, who is based in Brazil took some time to answer a few questions.

1) Tell us what it has been like living and working in Brazil through the pandemic?

To be honest it has been strange, there is a lot of burying heads in the sand happening. Having such close ties to the UK and seeing how things have been handled there it is worlds apart. Watching the UK and the rest of the world start to open up, the number of cases considerably lower has been tough because the situation here does not seem to be improving although we are acting like it is.

There is a sense of following the crowd by doing what the rest of the world are doing even though the situation here is the not the same. Not only is that frustrating, but it is dangerous as the virus is still spreading rapidly though the country. For example, the quarantine in Rio ended months ago even though the number of cases did not decrease and once you ease the lockdown restrictions it is very difficult to enforce it once again. A lot of this was to do with the state of the economy, which is understandable because the country simply could not survive with everything staying closed. But also I think people are tired of it and want their lives back.

Thankfully though, in the recent months, we have received a lot of vaccinations from the US which has sped up the process to normality and we are expected to have the whole state of Rio vaccinated by November.

2) What has been the biggest challenge/obstacle to life during COVID?

For me it is not knowing. Not knowing when this is going to end. Not knowing what is coming next. Not knowing what the future will hold. I am someone who is very structured and likes to plan and prepare things. If I don’t have an idea of when something is going to end or improve it becomes very difficult for me to mentally adjust.

I remember thinking to myself at the start of the lockdown, ‘ ah this will only last 6 months tops’. How wrong was I?

3) How did you respond to it and what have you've learned about yourself during this time?

I had to let go. I came to realisation that you can only control the things you can control and there is no point in worrying about it because everything else is just wasted energy. I have always been a worrier but living through this pandemic has turned me into a warrior.

I have learnt a lot about myself. I am a lot stronger mentally than I thought I was but not only that, I am much more adaptable. I am only focussing on things to give me good, positive energy.

4) How has the country changed during the pandemic?

Unfortunately, it feels as though the changes have mostly been negative. Obviously there has been a lot of heartbreak from the loss of loved ones and businesses have gone bust. Also the gap between the rich and the poor has increased which has led to more instability in the country.

I think there has been a loss in faith of the leadership of the country due to the way things have been dealt with during the pandemic and with the election year coming up in 2022, I expect we will see a change. This has caused a bit more friction between supporters but I feel as though a change in leadership is necessary for Brazil to move in a positive direction.

5) What do you think the future looks like for the country in the next 2-3 years and beyond?

Another good question. As I stated in my previous answer, I think there will be a change in government which will be a positive change in my opinion. That will create optimism throughout the country but the way that we come of COVID is going to be crucial to the long-term impact of the country. Right now, that is difficult to guess have it will be managed.

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