How I found strength during COVID by Suren Verma
ABE's regional director for Asia, Suren Verma, who is based in Myanmar, shares the moving story of his battle with COVID and how he found strength and inspiration at the most difficult of times...
Let me share this story of my survival after getting infected with the virus for 18 days. This was the truly terrible period when thousands of people were dying daily, no hospital services were available and very few medical stores were open in Myanmar.
Moving from my bed to my kitchen became an adventure, at one point I felt I could not make it. I remember clearly when my blanket was next to my legs and I had no energy to get it to my body. At those moments, I could sense my breathing, focusing on each breath in and out become an interesting and meaningful moment.
The turning point to my recovery, I believe, was when I learnt to apply “logotherapy” from the Viktor E. Frankl book. Logotherapy is a therapeutic approach that helps people find personal meaning in life as a result of responding to life's challenges. I kept working to find meaning and this led me to think about how I could apply the “The ABE Way” which is a shared commitment to transform lives and communities. In “The ABE Way” there are some significant values, attitudes and behaviours that were relevant to me at that point;
- Working for it
- Soaking up pressure
- Gaining skills every day
- Thinking ahead
- Turning risk into opportunity
- Acting with integrity
In an insightful moment, I realised these values and behaviours would be useful in my personal life to help me recover.
I was also helped by our HR manager from the ABE UK office who sent me literature to support mental health and wellbeing. Whenever there were ABE regional meetings, my seniors were never tired of reminding me to take sufficient rest and proper medication. Plus there were daily and weekly messages from the ABE management team, and colleagues reminding me of living a meaningful life, and how we are adding value to global communities. I came to realise the truth behind the statement that ABE is not just about qualifications but a belief in your potential, it’s about transforming lives and communities with its values and belief in a safer and prosperous future for all.
Myanmar has been going through such a challenging time - political instability, the health sector's failure - with schools and colleges shut down for more than a year. ABE has supported our communities with a reduction in student registration fees, introducing the top-up degree from the University of Hertfordshire, endorsing some of key Myanmar regional programmes to be delivered in a local context while encouraging learning through ABE global movement campaign. Thank you ABE for adding value and meaning to the lives of many around the world.