Checking In During Covid-19

Today we check in with Ana Ramirez Zarate, David Carbajal, and Sandra Esmeralda de Anda on how they've navigated the Covid-19 pandemic.
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We’re nearing two months since California issued its shelter-in-place in order in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the statewide quarantine begins winding down, with beaches and some businesses opening, we’re sober to the fact that the last month and half has taken its toll.

The degree and speed of change to our daily lives has left me in a state of shock. I can say with absolute honesty that I felt dazed all of March and the better part of April. Of course, I’m not the only one, and throughout these last two months I’ve found myself dedicating a lot of time to check in with my co-workers, partners in the field, and friends.

As a organization, we also felt it important to highlight some of the amazing people we’ve worked with and their experiences navigating this pandemic: Ana Ramirez Zarate from Resilience OC, David Carbajal who has written Op-Ed’s and features for this blog, and Sandra Esmeralda de Anda who is a member of Chispa and newest Program Coordinator at the OC Justice Fund.

Ana Ramirez Zarate

COVID-19 has definitely impacted the way we interact with the community and the families we support. But regardless of the circumstances, we have been able to adapt some of our community spaces, like the Participatory Defense space where we come together to support families and individuals navigating the criminal and immigration systems. And although we have transitioned this space online our goal continues to be supporting families who navigate these systems.

With the support of the amazing folks we have incorporated additional resources to our meetings given that many in our communities have lost their jobs and are struggling to survive. We know that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected low-income immigrant Black and brown communities so we must focus on sharing and creating resources for the families that participate in our meetings.

As we continue to adapt and accommodate to the reality we are living, it is important that we find ways to center ourselves and our needs. For me, being flexible and patient with myself, and mindful about expectations has been crucial during these times. 

David Carbajal

I am doing a lot better than the first week of quarantine! The first week was so full of anxiety and uncertainty because I work for a large community health center and in all honesty, even the most prepared were unprepared, but things have calmed down.

All of that being said, I am privileged to still be working. It has also been a very interesting time because my mom passed earlier this year and grieving her in the time of a pandemic has been challenging but I am adapting. I have been watering my plants weekly, catching up on TV shows, lighting candles, crying and thinking about the future we all deserve. I am also limiting the amount of news and media I intake, I read the things I have to know and check back only when I need to. Turning off the news can sometimes be very healthy for us.

Sandra Esmeralda de Anda

I have been doing relatively well for the first month of quarantine. I have been prioritizing my mental health and also checking in with my family and community to see how we can collectively help each other.

I have been voraciously reading books, writing fiction, watching foreign films, social distancing, and exercising at the park. My day mostly consists of answering and sending emails from the moment I get up until I go to sleep, attending zoom call meetings, checking in on families who currently have loved ones detained at the Adelanto Detention Center, and keeping up with the news to best prepare myself for this pandemic.

Hairo Cortes

Hairo Cortes

is a founding member and Executive Director of Chispa. His organizing background in immigrant rights has seen him lead local, statewide, and national campaigns against deportations and immigrant detention. You can usually find him singing along to Johnny Cash and playing with his cats, Om'Nom and Chispita.

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Chispa is a brave organizing political home for young Latinx identifying peoples. Chispa seeks to engage with excluded peoples to uproot systems of oppression and cultivate systems grounded in community accountability, solidarity, and self-determination for our communities to thrive.

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