Monday, March 16, 2020

Board Games and Venturing Out


About board games and venturing out during a pandemic, I have the same question - is it worthwhile?
When I was a child, the boredom of board games and playing cards would drive me to tears. Hours of tedious following the rules, only to be left with nothing to show at the end of it. I much preferred a quiet corner with colouring pencils and paper, beads and string, building blocks, or my French knitter.

According to child experts, by not forcing me to play games my mother caused me to lose out on valuable life lessons - team spirit, ambition, competitiveness, perseverance, the ability to complete a task within a structured framework, being a gracious loser. Haha, now we know why I'm such a weird adult.

If you have children banned from going to school or if you become bored during the Covid-19 lockdown, you could consider board games to pass the time and at the same time improve your social skills and character.

Right now, I'm desperate for a chess match with Gary Kasparov. As he reaches across the checkered expanse to make his first move, I would lunge forward and snatch away his queen. Why? So I can carry it off into a corner and craft a pedestal for a dollhouse birdbath.

By far the most serious drawback of not having board games is the lack of dollhouse building materials this affords. A crafter's stash can never be big enough. Which will be a topic about hoarders and hoarding in a future post.

I considered venturing out to a charity shop to see if I can sniff out a few chess pieces for my project but I nixed the idea immediately. Since last night, South Africa is in the first stages of lockdown. Schools will be closing this week, and people have been advised to stay at home as much as possible. As is typical of governments worldwide, they're closing the stable door after Corona has bolted. What astounds me is that in this age of free circulation of news around the world, 'informed people' are still in denial about the seriousness of our situation. But it's not only that; they seem to have no concept of how much worse it's going to be for South Africa because they aren't factoring in some brutal truths about this country:
  1. More than 20% of our adult population is HIV positive. This is the highest number on the entire planet.
  2. TB is rampant in South Africa. Again, we have the highest numbers of any nation. Talk about a population with compromised immunity.
  3. South Africa has one of the most inadequately educated populations. Ignorance becomes deadly when people have no knowledge about health and safety. Most South Africans don't have a basic understanding of hygiene or disease prevention and they live in squalor. This is why Covid-19 will sweep through the nation like a wildfire.
  4. We have crowded living conditions in townships and informal settlements that can rival anything in China. The ideal breeding ground for a virus.
  5. Unlike China, our government doesn't have the resources or control to put the population under full lockdown to prevent the virus from spreading.
  6. Don't be fooled by news reports of our state of the art laboratories, hospitals, famous doctors and epidemiologists. A lot of it is bluster about past glory and what we have left will serve a select few.
  7. Our healthcare system doesn't have the facilities or resources to provide the most basic services to citizens. Many South Africans never see a doctor in their lifetime. We have only a handful of decaying government hospitals and clinics to care for more than 48 million people who have no medical insurance. Many of what the government calls 'health care facilities' are one-room clinics with a nurse and no doctors. Distribute the population evenly and you have a hundred and ten thousand people at the doors of each. Our health services are grossly inadequate when we are healthy, never mind during a pandemic.
  8. The South African economy is bankrupt. We don't have funds in the national coffers which can be diverted to provide medical care to the people or relief to business sectors that will face extreme hardship.
  9. On a good day, South Africa has a food shortfall. Poor people will undoubtedly starve in the coming months; first because of supply-chain disruptions and shortages, then because of unemployment and rising costs as the economy continues to spiral downward. I know that my European and American friends are speaking out against selfish hoarders but in South Africa, the fear of running out of food is not unfounded and for those who can afford it hoarding is already a way of life.
  10. Political rivalry and instability is the order of the day. We are dealing with an uneducated population that is led by corrupt leaders who regularly sweep crowds into a frenzy of murder and looting to achieve their own ends. If you think I exaggerate, look up Julius Malema. Mr. Trump could be the court jester to this dangerous megalomaniac and many ministers in our government are no better. Malema is inciting people to an uprising against the government for its inept handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, at the same time helping the government to stigmatize people who have contracted the virus. Unfortunately, he has the ear of large numbers of the population.
If you're thinking of donating a few Euros or Dollars to help us get through the crisis, reconsider. Your country needs it as much as we do right now. Any help that comes to South Africa will be used as a political tool or diverted and misspent. We'll be lucky if a few crumbs fall to the people who need it most.

What a grim picture I just painted. Sorry, I had to get it off my chest.

You might wonder where I stand in all of this. Shouldn't I feel very guilty to yearn for a chess piece when a million people in my country are about to die of sickness and starvation? I don't. I feel grateful. Grateful to be one of the few who are not starving and who can stay at home and ride it out. I was born in this country, I am one of its people and it has always been my home. Despite sucking at board games as a child, I try to respond with kindness when my fellow citizens act against me in racism and hate. Like many privileged South Africans, for all of my adult life I have involved myself in the upliftment of the underprivileged and paid taxes so that the government can do their part in repairing the wrongs in this country. Although I'm not a political activist, I speak out for what I believe is in the interest of all of humanity, not any one person or group. I did not create or condone this situation. I'm merely one person doing the best I can. Until all people come to their senses and act for humanity instead of promoting their own interests, we will not turn the tide. The midst of a pandemic is as good a place as any to pause and think about that. I wonder how many politicians will?

If you're looking for me, I will be rummaging in my stash for something that I can use to build a birdbath.

17 comments:

  1. Good luck finding your birdbath piece. And I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.

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    1. Thank you, Sheila, I'm happy with my progress and am going to make several birdbaths while I'm at it. Hope things are still OK in your corner of the world.

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  2. !Wooo Megan nos has pintado un horizonte muy negro en Sudáfrica¡Animo y esperemos que se vayan solucionando , por lo menos dominar este virus; tanto en tu país como en el resto del mundo. Aquí donde yo vivo Castilla-León(España) ayer el delegado del gobierno de mi comunidad hacía un llamamiento a los ciudadanos que aquellos que tuvieran en sus casas material , como mascarillas, batas plastificadas ,desinfectante.... en definitiva material sanitario lo donaran en las instalaciones gubernamentales. La gente está respondiendo muy bien y todos pensamos ¡que mal estamos! así que nos toca cuidarnos y procurar cumplir todo lo que nos aconsejan. Cuídate con todos los tuyos y seguro que tu vena creativa surgirá.Besos:-)

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    1. Dear Rosa. I'm watching the situation in Spain and worrying so much for you. Here in South Africa, one thing people didn't get to hoard much is medical supplies, because we just don't have it available. Yesterday, I made some cloth face masks. I think I'm going to make a whole lot and hand them out. Do you sew? Check out the link to the free pattern on CraftPassion.

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  3. What a story, Megan, but I've read everything with attention, and lots of issues are unfortunately true....... However here, in The Netherlands, we see that people are helping each other now in these difficult times, in little things, as well in big things. Worldwide we all now live in uncertainty about lots of things, future will learn us...... But we will survive (I hope) and together we'll overcome this virus.
    I hope you have found whatever you were searching for, in your piled up stash ;).
    Stay safe and healthy, Megan, take good care for yourself, this virus is a serious one!!
    Hugs (virtual ones), Ilona

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    1. Dear Ilona. Some days I feel so far removed from the reality of what I see on the news. As a crafter and someone who stays at home all the time, my life hasn't changed much yet. However, reaching out to other people is one thing we can all do in one form or another. I sewed some face masks and intend to hand them out :-)

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  4. I read every word you wrote and understand what a frustrating situation your country will be facing. It makes me feel twice as worried for you and the few members of my family who still live there.
    Being isolated is no big deal but being surrounded by thousands of the virus infected people can be extremely dangerous.
    Take care and be safe.
    A warm (virtual) hug,
    Drora

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    1. Drora, I've watched your minister of defence talk about the sensible measures ordinary people can take to protect themselves and how important it is to look after the welfare of the older people. Other countries which are taking the same approach seem to be getting good results. I hope that Israel is no different. Here we will have to deal with the situation in a different way but we will also get through it somehow. Look after yourself and keep making beautiful things. I think of you every time I see a walnut shell!

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  5. And in my country people are hoarding toilet paper...

    Do your best to stay safe and take care of yourself... for example by finding something you can turn into a birdbath. Concentrating on miniatures is not the worst thing we can do during these extraordinary times.

    Hugs
    Birgit

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    1. Birgit, I wish I could understand the toilet paper thing. We're all laughing about it. I think it was a conspiracy started by toilet paper manufacturers ;-)
      My birdbaths are coming along nicely and as the days progress and the world doesn't come to an end, we realize that life will carry on in one form or another. Thank you for your lovely posts. Since I have family in Germany, I appreciate any news from there.

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  6. What we learn from others helps put our own world in perspective. Are our miniature worlds the antidote to the craziness that surrounds us?

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    1. Sherrill, miniatures are undoubtedly one of my coping mechanisms. That, and a form of gratification. Many things I will never have in real life, I have created for myself in miniature and I get just as much joy from them.

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  7. Precisamente,lo que comentas,lo estuvimos hablando en casa,conocemos la situación y desde un país con medios sanitarios y económicos es fácil hablar de solidaridad,pero en el que ni el alimento está al alcance de todos....
    Lo que no pensamos,es que es asunto de toda la población,si una pandemia no se controla en todos los continentes,nadie estará a salvo,ni las grandes potencias con todo su dinero! porque los virus,seguirán propagándose y volviendo a cruzar fronteras. Hay que crear un fondo mundial para estos casos de ayuda para emergencias, centrado en brotes de enfermedades y con financiación continua de países donantes, ONG y agencias de la ONU.
    Y mientras persista esta situación,me parece perfecto que sigas buscando una pieza de ajedrez o cualquier otra cosa que te permita tener un baño para pájaros,nuestro hobby nos mantendrá alejados mentalmente y es una buena medicina!
    Cuidaros mucho!!!
    Besos.

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    1. Pilar, your are entirely right. What happens in one country affects all others. Now that the world focus is on a disease that spreads by people travelling, I'm intrigued to see just how many people routinely cross borders every day, I never thought about it before. I firmly believe that the future of our world depends on greater cooperation between countries and the EU was a good start. On a global level, my big concern is countries where the population grows too fast. The planet can't support all these human beings, and the burden of care falls so heavily on the successful economies that it could tip everyone into chaos.

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  8. I have worried about countries with the sort of issues you outline here since this began as it is a recipe for civil unrest. Even here in the Uk with all the well established 'structures' of an old country with a relatively small population the practical issues terrify me more than the virus itself. The ramifications of this issue will be exceedingly long term and there are many we haven't even considered yet. I hope you and yours are kept safe and well and that life will eventually return to a new normal that is a good place.

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    1. Marilyn, I've been reading endlessly on the internet to see what people's opinion is of the most likely outcome for this pandemic. There's everything from total anarchy to 'it will all be over by Christmas'. I think the lesson we can learn from this is that even when you know the facts, and no matter how terrible they are, no one can predict exactly what the future will be like. Right now we're taking sensible precautions and trying to be optimistic that the situation will remain under control.

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  9. Hi Megan. I am not much of a board game player either at times. And I am saddened to hear of the situation for your South African population. It doesn’t sound positive and unfortunately this disease is a bad one. Just stay safe and take care of yourself. X

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