Nathalie McCaughey

Lima, Peru

Dear Monash Community, a big Hello from Lima-Peru, where we have been in strict quarantine since March 16th and we will remain like this until the 30th of June – a total of 107 (!!!) days.

It has been tough to say the least. I would love to report that I spent my days doing yoga, Netflix and learning how to cook exotic dishes, but this could not be further from the truth of our life here. Police and military are ever present and rules are strictly enforced via high monetary fines (e.g. not wearing a mask in the street can be fined at S./ 360 compare this to the minimum monthly wage of S./930 you get an idea of the impact) or even prison.

Wearing masks is mandatory, curfew was initially from 6 PM to 5 AM, but has now been reduced to 9 PM to 4 AM and we are only allowed to go to the shops, pharmacy, bank and hospital. Schools are closed until next year and the borders are still up, which means that I have not seen my husband since March, as he works in Mexico, and we do not know when he will come back here.

The desperation of people, most of whom live from the money they make that same and have no access to a social system, is mounting. Especially the refugees from Venezuela, who came here by the thousands, are very hard hit, since most are without any family support. Help does hardly reach these people. I am fighting daily to keep my employees in work, but am now faced with the “second wave” : massive economic downturn.

If COVID 19 has taught me one thing it’s this: the reality of the people from the third world, as I see it, is that when faced with something like COVID 19, they simply do not have the luxury of “stay home – stay safe”. Their choice is “get out and risk the virus or die of starvation”.  Flattening the curve to not overwhelm the medical system is an oxymoron here, since the medical system is overwhelmed at the best of times.

There is really only one message I would like to send back to the Monash Community: “Count your blessings and remember those who are less fortunate than you!”

Images: Dr. Nathalie McCaughey wearing a facemask