Love Anyway

BONUS: Stay Home For Us

COVID-19 anywhere is a threat to everyone, everywhere. In this special bonus episode, Preemptive Love team members call in from around the world to share why they are staying home—and exactly who you are helping when you do the same.

COVID-19 anywhere is a threat to everyone, everywhere. In this special bonus episode, Preemptive Love team members call in from around the world to share why they are staying home—and exactly who you are helping when you do the same.


Show Notes

COVID-19 anywhere is a threat to everyone, everywhere. In this special bonus episode, Preemptive Love team members call in from around the world to share why they are staying home—and exactly who you are helping when you do the same.

A little girl in Syria waits in line to receive medical care at our mobile clinic. With only 57 public hospitals running in Syria, our mobile clinic is the only accessible healthcare for families who have already survived war and endured so much.

The choices we make in this moment could mean life or death for someone else. And as you’ll hear in this special bonus episode, for many of us, this threat is anything but hypothetical.

These are our stories. Read more and see the people behind the stories you heard on this episode.

We belong to one another. Now, more than ever, we know it. And we can live it.

There’s one more thing you can do to protect the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can give to support our work providing food, medicine, and jobs in Syria, Iraq, Mexico, and Venezuela.

We’re committed to achieving one goal in this crisis: no one starves in quarantine. No one dies for lack of medicine. No one loses the chance to work.

I want to give to Preemptive Love.

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Love Anyway is a podcast by Preemptive Love. It’s written and produced by Erin Wilson, Kayla Craig, and Ben Irwin. Sean Gabrielson is our audio editor. Skip Matheny is Preemptive Love’s director of digital. Executive producers are Jeremy Courtney, Jessica Courtney, and JR Pershall. The narration for this episode was written by Kim Mack.

Additional Resources

Love Anyway

Looking for the Helpers During COVID-19

Who are the helpers in times of the COVID-19 pandemic? Many of us are familiar with Mr. Roger’s advice to “look for the helpers” in times of chaos. In today’s special episode, we talk with people across the U.S. to explore what it looks like for all of us to not only look for the helpers — but to be the helpers — even in a global pandemic hitting very close to home.

Love Anyway

Why Violence Is a Virus (We Can Stop the Spread)

What if the very skills we’re all learning to stop the spread of coronavirus could help us stop the spread of violence? In fact, what if what we’re experiencing now could lead us to end war?

Love Anyway

BREAKING: Coronavirus is Affecting Refugees—Here’s What We’re Doing

How is coronavirus impacting our refugee friends in Iraq, Syria, and Mexico? How can we love anyway in the face of panic and the spread of disease? In the face of a pandemic, this ten-minute episode breaks down how COVID-19 is affecting refugees and our work.

Full Transcript

Ben: As COVID-19 cases worldwide near 3 million, a massive number of us are under shelter-in-place orders. In the US, unrest is growing, as people struggle with the pain of staying home. Losing income. Watching the economy crumble.

Political divides threaten to tear us even further apart, just when we need each other the most.

As much as this hurts—and make no mistake, it does hurt—as much as we miss our friends and the events we’d be attending right now, as much as we long to return to the life we knew—our choices in this moment matter, maybe more than they ever did.

We aren’t just social distancing to protect ourselves. We’re making these sacrifices to keep the most vulnerable among us—the elderly, the immunocompromised, those with underlying health issues, essential workers, and those without access to medical care—healthy, safe, and alive.

The choices we make in this moment could mean life or death for someone else. COVID-19 anywhere is a threat to everyone, everywhere.

For members of our Preemptive Love team around the world, this threat is anything but hypothetical. So we decided to ask some of them to share why they are staying home—and exactly who you are helping when you do the same.

These are their stories. 

Lindsey Pruett-Hornbaker works on our grants team and lives in Iowa. She stays home for the baby she’s expecting very soon.

Lindsey: For a little while, this was one of the most joyful seasons of my life. Last fall, my wife and I found out we were expecting our first baby––I was growing a healthy little girl, due in early summer.

Then things shifted quickly.

When the novel coronavirus began its spread in the US, we had lots of questions and fears—and very few answers or pieces of hopeful news. Not even healthcare practitioners know exactly what the effect of COVID-19 is on a pregnant person or a baby in utero. We only know that pregnancy puts a person at higher risk for contagious disease. I was told by my own care providers to be extra cautious, to self-isolate, and to know things may change quickly.

Now, this season is a little scarier. As the virus continues to spread, it has become more and more clear that my family can’t survive this alone. My wife and I can stay home to protect our baby. We can cancel our upcoming baby shower and ask for family and friends to check-in via phone.

But we have to trust that when one of us has to go out to buy groceries, no one else in the store is carrying a mild or asymptomatic version of the illness. We have to rely on our community to practice social distancing, to keep themselves healthy—so the hospital doesn’t become too crowded. We have to deal with the possibility there won’t be enough personal protective equipment for our midwives and nurses when it’s time for our baby to arrive.

If things continue to get worse as predicted, we have to prepare for a birth that doesn’t include any family––that may not include even my wife, due to health and safety concerns. We are scared and we are grieving, but we are hopeful that our community will recognize that practicing social distancing is the best way to belong to each other right now.

Ben: Diana Oestreich works with faith-based partners who support our work. She’s a former army medic, a sexual assault nurse, and she’s about to become a first-time author. She stays home for the immunocompromised—including her husband, a doctor, and one of their children.  

Diana: My favorite person in the world, my husband, has asthma. He is super-dad on weekends, making pancakes for our kids. And on weekdays he flies out the door to go to work as a doctor.

He knows his risks of contracting coronavirus. He understands his own underlying respiratory condition, and the fear of bringing it home to his family—including our son, who also has asthma.

What he doesn’t know is whether people are containing the spread or are contributing to his risk of catching the disease.

When you stay home, you protect my family. You protect the millions of healthcare workers we all rely on, now more than ever.

These brave doctors and nurses and lab technicians—they are dads and moms, and they, too, have underlying conditions and children at risk. But they still go to work, for you.

We can’t end the pandemic overnight, but we can give our healthcare workers confidence that their communities are championing their safety. That they can count on us to do our part, just as they are tirelessly doing theirs.

Ben: Erin Wilson, our senior field editor and the usual host of this podcast, lives in Iraq, where she’s staying home to protect the story-bearers among us.

Erin: When news of the novel coronavirus first began to leak from China, there wasn’t much known about it, other than the fact that it could be deadly. Many of those who contracted the virus and died were older people.

“Older people.” And by that, I mean folks over 55 years old. They are a precious resource everywhere, but especially in Iraq.

Decades of war and violence, political unrest which led to starvation, and a medical system slow to develop because of instability—this all has devastating ramifications for Iraq’s population.

Today, the median age in Iraq is just 21 years old. Nearly 60% of the population is under the age of 24.

So what about Iraq’s “older people,” those 55 and older? Somehow they survived waves of suffering throughout their lifetimes… and today they represent just 8% of the population.

Iraq has lost so many of its story-bearers to war. Its history keepers. Its community builders. Its culture preservers. Its hard-won wisdom sharers. Gone. Because of violence.

I stay home to protect those who survived. To protect their role in society. To protect their precious stories. Some, particularly those in Iraq, might say it’s a duty to protect them. For me, it’s a privilege.

Ben: Zachariah Thrasher is a program officer for Syria, and he’s staying home for some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19: the refugees he serves every day. 

Zach: There is no social distancing when you’re a refugee or an asylum seeker. When you’re stuck in a shelter or detention center.

At the time of this recording, there are Only 57 public hospitals fully functioning in Syria. And there are only a couple of laboratories nationally designated to test for COVID-19. With the threat of coronavirus, Syria has recently allowed medical students who haven’t completed school to start providing medical care.

In northeast Syria, occupying Turkish forces have repeatedly cut off water. How do you cope with the basic challenge of living day-to-day, much less washing your hands for 20 seconds?

In addition to crowded refugee camps, the virus would be deadly in detainment centers and prisons. Here, inmates are even more crowded than refugee camps, often living in squalid conditions.

For those who already had very little, whose resources were already stretched thin, whose access to healthcare and food was already limited, coronavirus creates even more challenges. For those still fleeing violence in Idlib, Syria, for those who daily worry how they’ll feed their family, COVID-19 is not their greatest worry.

But if COVID-19 would strike their camp, it would spread fast. Testing would be barely available. And healthcare workers could not cope.

COVID-19 has changed all of our lives. But for the most vulnerable, for those who have spent the past few years on the run for their lives, for those without access to grocery stores or hospitals, who already struggled to find day labor to earn an income, this virus is another devastation, on top of so many others.

Ben: Charlene Winfred, whose stories and videos you’ve probably seen on our social media feeds, normally works from Iraq. But for now, she’s home in Singapore, with her elderly mom.

Charlene: I came back to my mother’s home in Singapore as COVID-19 hit Iraq. I’m lucky—I come from a place where healthcare is world standard and the government response is rapid and competent. This is absolutely a privilege, and one I’m weak-kneed with gratitude for right now.

My respiratory system is pretty well compromised. Asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia—I’ve had them all, some of them multiple times. Respiratory illnesses hit me hard—so COVID-19’s threat of pneumonia to those with underlying health issues is almost a guarantee for me, if I were to be infected.

My mum’s flat is pretty small by American standards—around 700 square feet—which is normally plenty of room for us both. When I first returned from Iraq, I chose to self-isolate for the requisite 14 days, to make sure that I was symptom-free. And what is otherwise a roomy space for two people turned out to be too tight for keeping the regulation 6 feet from each other at all times. This was a big challenge especially in shared spaces like the kitchen, when she and I are home all day.

The part of the suburb where I live is 30 or 40 years old, so its population of elderly—65 years or older—is very high. This includes my own: Mum is 70.

If I get hit by this virus, I know I’ll go down pretty hard. But I have enough confidence in my country’s healthcare system and my relative youth, to rate my chances of recovery pretty highly. For older people though? All of the research and analysis about the virus causing this pandemic suggests that their chance of recovery isn’t as good as my own.

As countries struggle to allocate ventilator and intensive care resources to the burgeoning number of severe COVID-19 cases, doctors are increasingly having to choose who to give these resources to.

When it comes to these choices, one trend emerges globally: if medical staff have to choose between a younger person and an older one, the older loses out. That older person could be any one of my neighbors, the people who have been a part of my parents’ lives for over 20 years that they’ve lived here.

Or it could be my mother.

This is a terrible thought, every single time.

I can’t control if Mum or any of the neighbors pick up this virus from anyone or anywhere else. But I do have control over how well I protect myself from picking it up. Because that’s inevitably protecting my mum’s life, and that of my community, too.

Ben: Finally, Kayla Craig, who you might also recognize from this podcast, is staying home because she doesn’t have to imagine what it’s like for a respiratory virus to threaten the lives of those most precious to her. 

Kayla: Just one year ago, a respiratory virus attacked my three-year-old daughter, Eliza. The virus quickly turned into pneumonia, life-threatening sepsis, and respiratory failure.

I still hear the monitors beeping and the machines whirring, but most of all, I hear the silent screaming of my own fears and thoughts. I still see the moment when she was intubated, the exact sliver of time when her lungs were too weak for a ventilator and she needed to be placed on an oscillator, a machine that shook her tiny body as her lungs were artificially filled with air.

I don’t wish that experience on anyone.

After a long month full of care and compassion from doctors, nurses, and staff—and lifesaving medicine, machines, and blood products—my daughter came home. I finally felt like I could breathe again, too. She is happy and healthy. I don’t take it for granted.

When you stay home, you stay home not only for Eliza, but for millions of others like her who are immunocompromised, too.

Many have invisible illnesses that make their bodies much more prone to becoming dangerously ill by COVID-19. My son Joseph is also one of those people. He has sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder. A sickness can quickly become life-threatening, as blood flow to his vital organs can become blocked. Ordinary viruses have brought him to the ER many more times than I can count, and already in his young life, he has taken a ride in the ambulance and needed lifesaving blood.

When you stay home, you protect yourself, which in turn, protects the most vulnerable. COVID-19 isn’t something they can recover from at home. It means hospitalization, medical machines, and relying on an already overloaded health care system. For many, the gap between health and near-death is precariously small. They don’t have the luxury of assuming their body would easily fight the virus.

Ben: We are staying home not just for ourselves, but for each other. For those in our families and our homes, for those in our neighborhoods and our communities. For those across oceans and timezones, those we’ve never met but who deserve a chance at health, at life, at a future.

We’re sacrificing a lot right now—and it’s ok to acknowledge that, to feel the pain of that. But let’s also remember who we are sacrificing for… and why. Because their lives are worth more than a booming economy.  

We are staying at home because we belong to each other. Now, more than ever, we know it. And we can live it.

Love Anyway is a podcast by Preemptive Love. It’s written and produced by Erin Wilson, Kayla Craig, and Ben Irwin. Sean Gabrielson is our audio editor. Skip Matheny is Preemptive Love’s director of digital. Executive producers are Jeremy Courtney, Jessica Courtney, and JR Pershall. The narration for this episode was written by Kim Mack.

Kayla: Hi, this is Kayla. There’s one more thing you can do to protect the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can give to support our work providing food, medicine, and jobs in Syria, Iraq, Mexico, and Venezuela. We’re committed to achieve one goal in this crisis: no one starves in quarantine. No one dies for lack of medicine. No one loses the chance to work.

When you give, you make another future possible after COVID. Go to preemptivelove.org to donate. 


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Remember when we used to eat together? In this episode, we travel everywhere from Atlanta to Iraq for a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to gather around the table with strangers. War begins in our heads and hearts long before it reaches our hands. But that also means the solution can begin with us. And sometimes, healing all that’s tearing us apart starts with a meal.

Remember when we used to eat together? In this episode, we travel everywhere from Atlanta to Iraq for a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to gather around the table with strangers. War begins in our heads and hearts long before it reaches our hands. But that also means the solution can begin with us. And sometimes, healing all that’s tearing us apart starts with a meal.