Ever since Spain became part of the global pandemic with the first Covid-19 case, no one knew at the time what consequences and changes it would bring about.
After the first case of the German tourist on 31st January, who had travelled from China, there were more and more confirmed cases in a short period of time, thanks not only to the returnees from China, but also to the travellers to northern Italy. Early March, the epidemiologist Fernando Simón, the head of the Special Committee on Emergencies, tried calming down the country as “ Spain will have only a handful of cases". Until the 18th March the number of cases was, according to the authorities, around 11,900 with 533 deaths and within this week of March the number increased tenfold and continued to grow exponentially. Due to the drastic increase in the number of infected persons, more and more measures to combat the virus have become reality. It began, in addition to the cancellation of direct flights from Italy, with the cancellation of all classroom courses in all educational institutions from the March 11 for two weeks in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, followed by the other communities shortly after.
In my placement that day, my colleagues and I were ordered by the town hall of Manresa not to hug, shake hands or kiss the children and young people when welcoming us, because of the corona virus, which they had not expected, judging by her surprised faces. Why should they? Until the previous day, the young people used one of the above-mentioned manner to greet us, while all day long numerous jokes about the virus could be heard from all directions.
With Igualada, a municipality in Catalonia that was put under complete quarantine on March 12, Manresa also began to cancel public events and close public facilities, including my youth centre. At first, I was overjoyed to have kind of a two-week holiday break, before I learned of the other measures. My english roommate unfortunately had to go to the office of her workplace that very day, although the leisure facilities were also closed.
The evening of Friday, March 13, a date that will certainly go down in the history of Spain and will be remembered for a long time. That evening, on which the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, declares a state of alert, that has only been used once before. As a result, all residents were subjected to a nationwide curfew from the following Monday, with only visits to grocery stores, pharmacies and necessary work permitted. For my austrian roommate, who originally planned to break off her voluntary service with her return on Sunday, urged even more to leave already on Saturday for fear of further restrictions. When asked by the English roommate, what the reason was, she clearly stated that the situation with the coronavirus and the resulting inability to work was to blame, in addition to the call for the return of all Austrian citizens by the Chancellor. In my opinion, in her case, it was only a sham, a kind of justification, because she had been struggling with personal problems related to the volunteering service since the beginning.
At that moment, I wondered whether the pandemic was really a sufficient reason to stop? I personally vowed to myself even before the beginning of the service that I would not break it off, no matter what the challenge is going to be. Because for me, this service in Spain is a kind of dream come true, a dream I have been dreaming about since the fourth grade and which was my main motivation for my low points during high school and graduation. To break it off because I had to face unusual challenges would be like throwing hard-earned money out the window. Furthermore, the situation in my hometown is not very different, with the only difference that I am allowed to do sports outside and that I could take much better initiative to support the nursing staff and emergency services. After the austrian’s breakup, it didn't take long until a fellow volunteer from the other apartment asked me about my position on the current situation. She also remained steadfast for a while, until the moment when a week later, she bought a plane ticket to Germany because of the longing for her family, who had actually planned to visit her at Easter; besides the uncertainty of the duration of the curfew. In order to see which volunteers from my sending organisation made the same decision, I contacted them. Surprisingly, they exactly agreed to my opinion to serve the quarantine and to hope for normality as soon as possible, although our coordinator asked for our current status shortly before.
Now 25 days have passed since the declaration of the national emergency and despite this, a breakup would not be an option for me, for which my colleagues and my coordinator are very proud of me for my perseverance.
To put it all in a nutshell, I do not see the current pandemic as a reason for the voluntary termination of the service, since, very importantly, no country in the world is spared. But everyone should be free to decide for himself what is in his best interest.