Beginning March 18, Malaysia closed her borders and forced millions of people into self-quarantine at home to contain the spread of coronavirus in the community. People were generally anxious about the risk of contracting the dreaded disease and passing it on to their loved ones. As the pandemic progressed, the level of anxiety among the people increased due to the escalating number of deaths and infected cases reported in the media and the rapid spreading of misinformation and fake news. During the lockdown period, many were fearful over the loss of livelihoods as most businesses close. People get stressed about working from homes and sharing confined spaces with those living with them. Others were lonely as they were isolated from their family or friends.
Most people experienced different levels of distress, and thus an idea to organize online sessions to build human connections in fun and light way came about. We conducted a total of 5 online courses in April and May. The participants were from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, United States, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Of the 19 participants, 18 had participated in an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) session for the first time.
Various activities include stopping, positive words, affirming names, and affirmation. Throughout the sessions, the participants felt relaxed, peaceful, and connected. They enjoyed the “Big Wind Blows” and “You are Amazing” light and livelies. Those who were initially reserved expressed that they were pleasantly surprised that they felt comfortable being with strangers. They had no qualms in sharing openly or making the first move to speak. Overall, the participants’ feedback after the sessions were positive.