When nature takes a breath

A blog by Elly Stigter

Elly Stigter, IofC Netherlands


Elly Stigter, IofC Netherlands

Elly Stigter has been working for Initiatives of Change Netherlands (IofC) as a project coordinator and administrative assistant since May 2018. She is a mother of two young adults, loves to cook, travel, go hiking and have a good conversation. Here are her reflexions on life during the first two weeks of lockdown in the Netherlands.

By now we are in the second week of staying at home as much as possible. Last Monday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte told us that all meetings are forbidden until June 1st, also for groups of less than 100 people. Automatically I thought that we are not allowed to go to the office or school, because sitting the whole day in a class of 30 students is not an option. So we have to spend the next two months at home! That's a bit scary.

Don't get me wrong, it's a horrible virus. I'll do everything I can to prevent infection. Everyone should do that, so that the virus costs as few lives as possible. We shouldn't make it any harder than it is for the healthcare personnel. But two months at home, day in, day out, with all social activities virtually at a standstill? No social contacts except by phone or computer? How am I going to do that?

In the meantime it appears that I have concluded too quickly that the government will take a decision next week about the compulsory closure of schools, catering and working from home. For the time being, the measure applies until 6 April. In the coming days, the number of infections will determine whether or not to extend this measure.

Every day we hear the number of new infections, the number of patients in intensive care and unfortunately also the number of deceased. Every day there are more and we are only at the beginning of the pandemic in The Netherlands. All hospitals in The Netherlands are increasing the number of beds with breathing facilities. Hotels that are empty are now being converted into nursing homes or maternity homes.

I find the creative solutions and the willingness of people to help each other fantastic and very hopeful. Whether it's a curtain studio that will now also make medical masks, DSM that will make disinfection gel for the hospital, or a local restaurant that started to bring meals to the homes of the elderly.

I always try to pay attention to the positive side. On the internet you can clearly see the environmental effects of a total Lock down in China and Italy. The water in Venice has never been so clear and blue in colour and is now full of fish. The photos about the air pollution and CO2 emission over China are also very clear. During a total Lock down or mandatory stay at home, nature will catch its breath again.

Isn't this also a good moment for us to reflect and think about what we can do differently from now on? Before we start running again as we did before between home, school and/or work, supermarket and back home? We now have time to think about this for ourselves and in the meantime enjoy the blossoms, green leaves that carefully appear on trees and shrubs and a beautiful blue sky with an ever warmer sun.

I wish everyone lots of love, strength and health. Take care of yourself and each other.


Elly Stigter, 26 March 2020




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