What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced working at home during this time?
The family and I are in a position that we can work from home as both Salama and I are freelancers. So working remotely has been something we have been doing.
However, the challenge in the beginning was to explain the need to stay at home to the kids and having them understand the gravity of the situation. Khalifa is 10 and Abdulla is seven. And it was difficult to tell boys that age that they cannot play outdoors or go meet their friends.
How did you explain the facts without intimidating them too much?
With kids, you don’t just explain the problem and then keep quite expecting them to understand. We just gave them facts like there is a virus going around making people sick. Then we simply explained all the work being done to take care of us and how staying at home was a big part of it.
Our kids were with us when we did the Thanking Heroes video (where the Ameris thanked the medical staff). So they understood that if we stayed at home, they were helping these heroes do their job quicker and better.
How have you adjusted to this new reality?
I think I have been blessed to be in a country where the government and the health care officials have been taking exemplary measures in ensuring that all citizens are safe and provided for. Also I am in a line of work where I can help spread awareness through my social media channels, like the videos I did on the drive-through Covid-19 testing centre in Abu Dhabi or how the UAE fights Covid-19.
How has quarantine changed your household routine?
There has never been specific household responsibility and we have always juggled the workload. Most of the time we have always cooked and cleaned together. When Salama would travel for work, I would do everything around the house and vice versa.
However, I have to admit we are being very creative with the cooking and trying out new cuisines. We have even made the Indian Pulao and Swahili bread from scratch.
How’s the online learning with kids going?
Abdulla is in the Al Karama School for children with autism. We were worried that with online learning, he would regress. But the school has done a remarkable job in putting all the systems in place. He even does therapy virtually. Everything is done according to routine and he even stands up for the national anthem.
Even Khalifa’s Al Raha School is doing a great job and I would like to thank all the teachers for stepping up during these trying times.
What are some of the things you miss the most from your pre-Covid-19 life?
I miss seeing my parents, my brothers and rest of the family; getting to hug them. I also miss travelling to tell a good story (as part of my job). Another thing is to take the boys out and watch them play. The kids love going to the beach and as soon as we get there, they would run to catch the waves; so happy and carefree. As a parent that is one of my most beautiful moments.
I am waiting for the government to announce that we can step out, so that I can hug my parents and take my kids to the beach.
What videos are you planning to make once this is over?
I think it will be ‘What is the new normal?’ I had a talk with Emirati doctor Fatima Al Dhaheri, who works on infectious diseases in the US and she said that if we return to the normal as we knew it, we really haven’t learnt much from this experience.
I am curious to document what this new normal will be for restaurants, public places, travel etc. Will there be safety distances ever where? Will the monkey bars in playgrounds be sanitised all the time? Will the beaches have crowd control? It will be interesting to find out.
What have you learnt about yourself during this trying time?
I have worked as a cadet on a ship for two years, and even stayed on board for four months at a time. That kind of prepared me for quarantine. But what I have learnt is that we can be flexible and adaptable according to situations. I have also learnt that from now on I will seize every moment. All the times we could have gone out and I felt too lazy to; it’s never going to happen again.
Also I am never going to take anything for granted again as we have seen how quickly it can be taken away from us.
How is this Ramadan going to be different?
This Ramadan we will reflect more, pray more and give back more to the society. Since we have more time in our hands, we can do a lot more ibadah (virtues). I am interested to see how the use of technology will aid in these activities, like will there be virtual Taraweeh (congregational prayer) or Qiyam Al Lail (night of decree)?
To see Khalid’s videos, please visit facebook.com/khalidalameri
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