Today I went to 3 apartments to deliver groceries. I knew all three of the people from my past deliveries, so I had short talks with all of them. We talked mostly about the difficulties of the crisis and the mainstream media. People are worried that the Ramadan religious holiday is coming up and COVID’s going to interfere with the usual method of things. It’s difficult to fast the whole day under stress and boredom, so some people think of not fasting this time. Everybody is worried about shopping for big family gatherings, they believe that after the curfew is over, there will be a great rush to the supermarkets for Ramadan shopping. One elderly man was upset that they wouldn’t be able to have their traditional family gathering because a part of the family lived in another city and could find no means of transportation due to the virus. This year there won’t be large public Ramadan dinners, which is upsetting for many people. Those dinners were not only a form of religious practice but also an entertaining activity for many elderly people who didn’t have many other socializing opportunities. He also complained that people older than 65 had been at home for too long, which makes sense since the curfew was first placed for the elderly due to them being more vulnerable to the virus, they have been unable to leave their homes for a month now. He said it was elderly people’s turn to go outside now and that everyone else should stay in. He had a point, I couldn’t imagine what it was like to be alone in your house and not go outside for a month.
Today I delivered groceries to 4 apartments. The highest demand is usually for bread, so far almost everyone has asked for some bread and water. By now, I know and have talked at least once with almost all of the apartments I have delivered to, but I’m closer with a few of them. Today, one lady asked about myself and my school, so I ended up telling her a lot about my going to college in the US, my classes and my major, and how I came back to Turkey due to Coronavirus. She listened with great intent, then asked me where I wanted to live when I grew up. I said it was a very hard question and that time would tell, but first I would continue my studies there for college. She said she had a son who graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and that he was working in a computer firm in the US right now. She said she was very happy for him that he found a job that he liked, but being so far away from him was very difficult for her, she missed him very much. Especially now with the crisis, she was so worried about him and would stress over his safety a lot. It was sad to listen to her story, but she said it helped her to share it with someone else, and she was relieved that someone like me could relate to her son’s experience. In the end, she wished me best of luck with school and in dealing with the virus as I left.
I brought supplies to 3 apartments today. By now I know most of the people I deliver to and usually have 5-minute chats with each of them. Starting on Friday, the government declared a curfew for everyone regardless of age until the end of Sunday. Although its technically forbidden for people my age to go outside, when I explain that I’m only going to the supermarket for a special task, not for my own leisure, the policemen usually leave me alone. During my small trip between the market and the apartments, I can witness firsthand the effect of the Coronavirus and the curfew on the social scene. While the masks that cashiers wear are necessary for health, they make them look more inhumane and hard to contact with, and therefore small talk is almost nonexistent in the supermarket. But when I go to the apartments, the people who know me show an incredible desire to connect and socialize even though I have my mask on, which shows that any type of connection and interaction has become rare and valuable in this difficult time of isolation.
April 15th. Today I delivered food supplies to 4 apartments. I brought bread, water, milk, oil, rice, eggs, potatoes and apples; some people asked for newspapers. Some people, especially the elderly, don’t have the habit of reading the news online and like to stick to reading a physical newspaper instead. I talked to one of these people about it and he said that he found it more convenient to read a physical newspaper and that he had a harder time trusting the online sources and didn’t like the adds popping up everywhere and distracting him. In the middle of the conversation, he told me about his technology problem and that his phone was too old to have Whatsapp, therefore he couldn’t talk to anyone with a face camera. I let him borrow my phone so he could call his daughter and see the faces of his grandchildren, which was a touching scene to be a part of. He assured them he was fine and was greatly pleased to talk to them face to face. He said he was very thankful and wished me health and luck in safely delivering my items.
I delivered groceries to 3 apartments today. One of the apartments was a lady I delivered to earlier. I had a short chat with her where she asked me if I could help her set up skype on her computer so she can talk to her relatives through video. I helped her for 30 minutes, she didn’t seem to mind me entering her house and said that she trusted I wasn’t sick. She was very thankful for my help and happy that she could see the faces of her relatives as she talked to them. I delivered the rest of the supplies to two new people, they were both very nice to me and said they were very happy that the administration was helping them out like this.
April 11th. I did 3 apartments today, one lady recognized me and we had a chat for about five minutes. I asked her how things were going and she said it was all the same, nothing had changed since last time. It was sad to see people going through difficult times, loneliness can really become a problem, especially for elderly people. She said she talked to her friends and family on the phone but it wasn’t the same as having them come over and talking to them in person. She couldn’t invite me inside, but she actually offered me some of the cookies she had baked which felt special and very gratifying after the hard work of carrying all the shopping bags.
Did grocery run for 3 new apartments on Wednesday, April 8th. They asked for similar things like bread, water, some fruits and vegetables, milk, tea, and honey. The people were very nice to me as I delivered their supplies. One lady said she would invite me for a cup of tea if this Coronavirus thing weren’t around and complained that it was very lonely during the curfew period. Someone asked me how I came to start doing grocery runs like this, I explained that it was community service for school but I really liked it. And I really like doing this because I can see how useful it really is to bring these people their groceries. Seeing them so happy and grateful to be helped out gives me enjoyment and makes me feel I did something truly useful.
Delivered groceries to 4 apartments on Sunday. They asked for bread, water, vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, olives), cheese, fruits (apples, oranges), tea, Turkish coffee, and honey. All of the people in the apartments were very grateful, I had short chats with all of them. Everybody is pretty bored because of not being able to leave their homes due to the curfew, so pretty much all of them are looking for some to talk to for company. Our chats were usually small talk, we talked about the news, the COVID crisis, people breaking the curfew rules and other mainstream media stuff, but the people don't really care about the content of the conversations. They are very tired of staying at home and are very enthusiastic about any form of socializing.
On April 4th, I did runs for 3 families, most of the things they required were basic supplies like water(lots of water), meat and vegetables, bread, tea, and coffee. These people were either +65, which means they weren't allowed to go out by law, or they didn't want to because they were old and thought it was too risky. While delivering the items, we had a chat with a few of them, they all seemed very happy that our compound is doing something to help them out.