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Saturday, January 23, 2021

2020: Canberrans describe their year of challenges and learnings

2020 has been described in many ways, not all can be safely printed.

So, CW journalist Cassandra Power asked Canberrans to tell us about their year. While this year has affected everyone differently and not necessarily equally, we all have a story. As we enter 2021, let’s keep the kindness we found in our moments of challenge.

Felicity Banks

Felicity Banks was planning on spending 2020 supporting her son at Kindy and selling her steampunk novels at fairs and festivals. Lockdown and her own immunocompromised caution meant her son and his big sister spent a lot more than a term at home and no book-selling festivals for her.

“We bought a second cat so I could cope with it all,” Felicity said. “And my son thrived on the educational computer games supplied by his school.”

Felicity is disappointed lockdown has affected her daughter’s schooling.

“But she and her teacher are both content,” she said. “I’m also disappointed ‘belief in science’ is considered a political position.”

Qualifying for JobKeeper has been “extremely helpful” for Felicity but she’s barely written anything this year.

 “Amidst all the pain of 2020”, Felicity said it’s the mentoring program from the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative that has made her excited.

“I am now the very happy leader of the Castle of Kindness Refugee Sponsorship Group and we just met a refugee family that we will be spending a lot of time with for the next six months,” she said.

“This year reminded people that humanity only works when we are kind and I am so thrilled to have something I can do as an ordinary person to make the world a little kinder to those who need it most.”

David Brown

David had planned to spend 2020 in Europe but instead went to Longreach, Cooktown, Darwin, and Uluru.

“This has been a great year,” David said. “I have done a major house refurbishment, seen new parts of Australia and am having the year of my life.”

But he is surprised about the selfish people demanding their rights rather than contributing to community health.

Jane Penders

Jane is staying positive. She’s happy to have kept her job and been able to work from home, spend more time building up her flower farm and connecting differently with family, friends and colleagues.

It wasn’t all good news for Jane and her family. She cancelled a trip to Vietnam to see her eldest son, her young, fit partner had a sudden heart attack and open heart surgery, and her grandson wasn’t able to have a party.

“This is a year nobody will forget,” Jane said.

Katie May

Katie was keen to spend 2020 enjoying life as a new mother to a six-month-old boy. When COVID hit, she was planning to ease back into work in pathology.

“It was scary for everyone, including my colleagues, my family, my friends, patients,” Katie said.

“Before it was under a level of control in Canberra, everything was unknown. We were all scared to go to work, I was scared to go home not knowing if I was bringing more than myself home to my baby and partner.

“Motherhood can be a lonely place when you are starting out; this made it a thousand times worse.”

Katie is disappointed her son’s first year of life was spent trapped inside with his parents stressed and worried.

She also disliked watching the world suffer and how people treated frontline staff walking the streets and in supermarkets trying to get themselves food.

Katie was surprised with how great Canberra survived and how toilet paper became like “jailhouse currency”.

Her new skill of 2020 is disinfecting a supermarket trolley with one hand whilst holding a child like a professional.

But she developed a bad habit of making funny faces at people at work, in public or the car – and then realising she’s not wearing a mask anymore!

“What I’m most looking forward to in 2021 is spending more time with friends and family, meeting our new daughter (covid baby) arriving in January and hopefully continuing to be able to go outside if everyone does the right thing.”

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