Happy news and sources of inspiration from around the world

By: Chloé Lebouc and Gabriele Brownstein 

While we are all on lock down, many of our KLC team members have their families and friends abroad, which they aren’t able to see right now. So, we wanted to surprise them with some positive news from where they’re from (surprise!) – as well as collect some inspirational ideas for our blog readers!

Over a quarter of the Canadian workforce is made up of newcomers, so chances are many organizations have employees with families abroad. While COVID-19 already poses a range of challenges in maintaining one’s mental wellness, for those who have to check on their families living far away and follow the evolution of the situation in different countries simultaneously, challenges can add-up.

So, we decided to virtually travel across the closed borders and collect a few noticeable examples from the inspiring initiatives we have seen in Kazakhstan, Colombia, Netherlands, France and the United States. Four continents and a few oceans of great ideas.

Kazakhstan: Music, maestro!

The largest country in Central Asia, spreading across Asia and Europe and bordered by the Aral sea, is home to a very rich music scene, making its way through the hottest European clubs, such as en vogue D.J. Nazira. No wonder that COVID-19 stimulated such creative responses.

– Up until May 10 the Astana Opera will stream online, for the first time, some of its most exclusive ballet productions. Including Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon, Roland Petit’s Coppélia, Raimondo Rebeck’s How Long Is Now and Beethoven’s Love. Along with these world-class masterpieces, in-house productions will also be available, featuring the work of some of the world’s most renown composers.
– Five of the Museums of Kazakhstan also offer culture-lovers 3D tours of their exhibits. Architecture, music, medieval history, arts… Everyone will find their Cinderella shoe.
– As well, China also sent 5 tons of humanitarian aid to Kazakhstan, such as masks and pharmaceuticals.

Colombia: The people to the rescue

The jewel of Latin America, beautiful Colombia is no exception to the COVID-19 crisis. But that’s not without counting on the tenacity of its scientists, engineers, and many more, as projects and donations flourish to help the health care workers.

– Medellin’s engineers and scientists created a prototype of a low-cost, open-source ventilator, in response to Stanford University global medical hackathon. Quickly, local factories adapted to mass produce the ventilators.
– With urban transportation shut down, Bogotá mobility company MUVO also deployed 400 free e-bikes to help health workers get to work.
– Solidarity is key, and Bogota’s residents amazingly responded to their mayor’s call for #DonatónBogotá: the equivalent of CAD$18.6 millions were raised to help the less fortunate during COVID-19. ¡Gracias, Bogotá!

    Colombian factories to mass produce open source ventilators created in Medellin. Photo: Mauricio Toro

Netherlands: Tech against COVID-19

While much of Dutch culture is worldly famous, you might not know that the country also shines for its tech economic fabric. And that’s particularly true during COVID-19.

– “Tech against Corona” is an initiative that is bringing together eight leading Dutch tech start-ups who decided to help the health care system by offering their knowledge and algorithms. From blockchain-based medical supply chain platforms, data capturing systems, digital identification, to cybersecurity… The list of free expertise is impressive!
– Meanwhile, in early March, a team of Dutch researchers from the Erasmus medical center of Rotterdam were the first scientists to identify COVID-19 antibodies.
– As initiatives grow like tulips all around the country, they have been given a stage through the #DASLIEF campaign (“that’s sweet”). Nearby initiatives can be found so everyone who is doing a little something extra to help their neighbours, friends, or local community, can receive a special thank you.

France: Do you fancy a balcony party?

We all know the passion French people have for cheering up with a good glass of wine with friends and France has rallied behind its joie de vivre with all the recent years’ events. So, it’s no surprise that despite being under a police-controlled lockdown, the French still manage to have fun.

– This Parisian for example, has decided to entertain his neighbours with “question pour un balcon”, a nightly quiz occurring each day after the 8pm applause where each side of the street represents a team.
– Other balcony parties include fitness sessions, saxophone concerts, or opera representations.
– European solidarity is also at its best: after an Italian hospital discovered that Decathlon’s snorkelling masks could be turned into ventilators and that a Belgium engineer could figure out a 3D valve to adapt the initial design for medical purposes, French retailer Decathlon decided to donate all its 30,000 units to European hospitals.

    An Italian medical worker testing a French Decathlon snorkelling mask with a Belgium 3D-printed respiratory valve. Photo: AFP

Unites States: Giving back, as emergency arises

With the U.S. now the epicenter of the global pandemic, private initiatives are rising throughout the country to help flatten the curve. All this, with a dash of creativity!

– Many are doing their part, such as Logitech who is helping teachers transition to virtual schooling by donating headsets, webcams, and offering Audible children’s books. Tech giants are walking the talk as well: Facebook is donating $100 million in the form of grants to 30,000 SMBs and Yelp announced a $25 million relief program for local restaurants.
– Who said romance had to stop during these social distancing times? Not Brooklyn-based photographer Jeremy Cohen, who created a series of videos on how to ask a girl on a date during COVID-19.
– Last but not least, Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter projected the American flag onto the Swiss Alps mount Matterhorn, to show solidarity with the most affected country.

    American flag projected on the Matterhorn, Switzerland. Photo: Gabriel Perren, posted by the Embassy of Switzerland in the United States of America

We hope you enjoyed our virtual world tour of COVID-19 good news! Stay safe, stay home, and celebrate all the joy and hope still out there!