Managing the crisis: Interview with Naa Okailey Adamafio-Manteau, Country Manager in Ghana

Naa, how did or do you deal with the corona crisis?

Naa: “Well, to be honest, before we reported our first case of COVID-19 in Ghana, I was closely (and calmly) monitoring what was happening globally, so I knew it was bound to get here soon. When Ghana reported its first cases of the COVID-19, I panicked a little bit and was initially overwhelmed with fear and paranoia. Over the period, however, I have found the most useful way to deal with the pandemic has been to keep myself adequately informed about the world situation without flooding my brain with terrifying COVID-19 related news. I no longer spend hours monitoring the number of cases and deaths around the world. I prefer, instead, to learn more about the virus itself, how it spreads, and how to prevent its spread. This way, I know enough to keep myself, my family and my team safe without getting overwhelmed with paranoia and fear.”

What is your most important learning during the corona crisis?

Naa: “In the early stages of the pandemic, a lot of people (including myself) called for a lockdown to manage the situation. However, when the President actually announced that the country was going to go into a partial lockdown, I began to worry about those who would be unable to stock up on food and other essentials. I worried about providers of non-essential services who relied on their daily wages to survive and I even began a small campaign to encourage my friends and family to give to those who needed it. I was not alone; in fact, over the last few months, I have witnessed many individuals and organisations all over the country donate food, groceries and money to others on a scale larger than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.

Perhaps the most important learning I have had during this pandemic has been the fact that there exists, deep within each person, the desire to support others; and if only we would allow ourselves to act on this desire, the world would be a much better place.”

What do you think will be the long-term changes resulting from this crisis (positive and negative)?

Naa: “A lot of people refer to their desire for things to return to ‘normal’, but I doubt things would ever go back to what they were before this pandemic. COVID-19 has taught us that the world is so much smaller than we thought, and that there is a lot which can be achieved with technology. We will no longer limit ourselves to physical engagements; businesses and individuals would utilize technology and digital communication platforms more and life would be, in a sense, more convenient for most people going forward.

Unfortunately, there is a possibility that the way in which we relate with each other as humans may change as well. The handshakes, hugs and kisses we took for granted may no longer be as frequent. The lessons we painstakingly taught our children on sharing and playing with others may no longer hold, and the physical distancing which we currently practise may persist long after this crisis ends.”

What are you looking forward to most after the lockdown?

Naa: “Well, technically, we are no longer on lockdown in my country, but there are still some restrictions on public gatherings until the spread of the virus is properly under control.

So, once life returns to its ‘new normal’, I simply cannot wait to go away with my family and close friends on a fun-filled vacation ANYWHERE; as long as it’s not my house 😊.”