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Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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2020: Canberrans describe their year ‘like no other’

CW journalist Cassandra Power asked Canberrans to tell us about their ‘year like no other’ and found that while 2020 has affected everyone differently, we all have a story to share. As we prepare to embrace 2021, we can take a deep breath, let go of past struggles and be proud of our community’s resilience.

Joy Gozum

Joy (pictured above) said she didn’t have any exciting plans for 2020; she wanted to start a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or start a family since her husband had joined her in Australia – having made it just before the borders closed.

But due to fewer children coming into the early childhood centre she worked at, her hours were cut, and she chose not to enrol to study.

“Then the baby plans needed to pause,” Joy said. “As I got scared of having a baby because of the pandemic and also because of Covid-19 my husband struggled a bit to find a job.”

Joy was disappointed about the hoarding of food, toiletries, and other necessities.

“It was really sad, and the young children are the most affected by it,” she said.

“I remember during a class, one of the children said that there was no food in the shops.

“It’s a bit hard to explain to them and it’s really sad that they are seeing these situations in front of their young eyes.

“I admit it was really hard even during the bushfires, but hoarding is not the answer; instead of helping each other people were just thinking about themselves.

Joy was also disappointed that some people were rude about her being an “Asian” because of Covid; she found it very disrespectful.

“I am surprised with the resilience of everyone, especially at my workplace, seeing the children coming back to the centre with a big smile, laughing and giggling.”

Joy is now starting a Responsible Service of Alcohol course online and thinking of taking baking or cooking classes because on her days off she sold cookies and Filipino pastries to earn some money.

“2020 has been a tough year for me and my family but I still have lots of things to be grateful for,” Joy said.

“2021 will be a great year and I am looking forward for a new beginning.

“Maybe it will take time for us to forget what 2020 gave us, but like what they say in High School Musical, we can do this, if we’re all in this together.”

Emily Franklin Browne

Emily’s 11-year-old daughter, Sophia, planned to spend Christmas in New York in the snow and to see her family in Queensland in 2020. But she couldn’t and she found lockdown to be very boring.

The virus taking over the world was disappointing for her and she was sad about people dying.

“I’m surprised I got a camera for my birthday!” Sophia said.

“I taught myself photography and my bad habit would be losing my social skills from lockdown.”

In 2021, she is most looking forward to travelling the world, going into Year 6 at school and seeing her family in Queensland.

Melanie Gibbons

Melanie Gibbons: “From a business perspective, it hasn’t been the year I expected, and it has taken a while to rebuild.”

Melanie had a big year planned for her communications business in 2020. Elm Communications was fully booked for stakeholder workshops and team planning days before she took a well-deserved break in the US. But after a period of “substantial growth” in 2019, her plans changed rapidly when a lot of her work was cancelled.

“A majority of my clients are government departments, and they were simply not ready to move consultation online and understandably were focused on setting up staff to work from home,” Melanie said.

“I wasn’t able to pivot like other businesses.

“I love to travel, so I was devastated when I had to cancel our travel plans.

“From a business perspective, it hasn’t been the year I expected, and it has taken a while to rebuild.”

But Melanie has been working from home for nearly three years and she has found it lovely having other people around.

“It’s been nice to have lunch with my husband, go for a walk with a colleague or coffee with friends.”

Melanie picked up some tech skills and quickly translated her in-person skills to a virtual world.

“It was critical to figure out how to keep people who had ‘zoom-fatigue’ engaged and collaborative online.”

Zoe Ann

Zoe Ann and her fiancé decided to postpone their April 2020 wedding.

Zoe had planned to marry her man in April 2020 but being the height of the lockdown in Canberra, only a handful of guests would have been allowed. This meant a last-minute decision to postpone until 2021.

“Luckily, our venue allowed us to change the date of our wedding,” she said.

“Unfortunately, my fiancé’s grandmother passed away a few months after we were supposed to get married. It’s devastating knowing she won’t be present at our wedding because we chose to put it off.

“It’s surprising how so much bad luck could happen over and over again.”

Zoe picked up embroidery and has found it therapeutic. In 2021, she is looking forward to finally getting married and starting her life with her husband.

“It definitely feels like we’ve lost an entire year of our lives.”

Charmain Ogilvie

Charmaine Ogilvie bought the Canberra Party Boat business in January, then came smokewaves, a devastating hailstorm and COVID restrictions.

Charmaine bought the Canberra Party Boat in January when bushfire smoke enveloped the national capital. Soon after came the hailstorm, then COVID hit in March just as she was about to start operating.

“We had to suspend the whole business until August. We’re most disappointed in how the Government took so long to ease restrictions in the ACT and put all business in the same boat regardless of how they operated,” she said.

“We were most surprised at how many people were willing to help us out and how quickly we were able to get six skippers on board.

“We’re very grateful and it’s a great community we live in.

“We’re most looking forward to business picking up as restrictions ease and seeing everyone have a wonderful time on our boat.

“We also have a baby on the way, so very much looking forward to his arrival in April, too!”

Adelaide Omina

Adelaide had a big party planned for her daughter Nandi’s seventh birthday in April, but lockdown changed her plans. Instead of all her friends and family it was just the birthday girl, her brother, sister, Mum and Dad.

“We made the most of it and she loved it.”

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