From where I stand: “The COVID-19 crisis has completely changed my life”

When the coronavirus outbreak began (at the end of February 2020 in North Macedonia), 39-year-old Marijana Tosheva was in her seventh month of pregnancy. Putting the needs of the most vulnerable above her own, she has been working tirelessly on the front line at the local branch of the Red Cross in Strumica, in the east of the country, attending regular meetings to coordinate the work of their mobile teams in the field, which distribute food and medicine to the elderly, people with disabilities, and people who suffer from chronic diseases or are unable to leave their homes.

Date: Friday, April 17, 2020

Red Cross employee Marijana Tosheva works tirelessly to assist the most vulnerable in North Macedonia. Photo courtesy of Marijana Tosheva.
Red Cross employee Marijana Tosheva works tirelessly to assist the most vulnerable in North Macedonia. Photo courtesy of Marijana Tosheva.
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It is a real challenge to help persons with disabilities and their assistants in this crisis. I spend a lot of time communicating with personal assistants to provide the best support to the most vulnerable and organize the life in the homes of the people who have been resettled. It is more than needed for women with disabilities to be with their personal assistants during the pandemic. Personal assistants provide a sense of security.

At present, we are facing a difficult situation: a month ago, we were encouraging women with disabilities to be socially active, and now we are encouraging them to stay at home and restrict their movement. This comes as a measure for protection and we are doing everything in our power to provide the necessary services. We have set up a help line for psychosocial support for the municipality and offered the services of the Red Cross mobile teams to assist with groceries, pay bills and supply medicines, in order to lower the risk of infection for these women and their personal assistants.

The COVID-19 crisis has completely changed my life. Before the pandemic, I assisted persons at high social risk. Now, my work has shifted to crisis and disaster management and implementing protocols for protection of employees, volunteers and personal assistants.

It is very difficult for parents who have to work during the day. Both my husband and I are working, and we have to juggle the school chores of our two children. My husband took over most of those responsibilities.”



SDG 3: Good health and well-being
SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

Red Cross employee Marijana Tosheva works tirelessly to assist the most vulnerable in North Macedonia. Amid the crisis, she’s been supporting the people with disabilities who have been resettled from the Banja Bansko Institution to apartments specifically designed for their independent living in Strumica and the village of Miravci. This initiative took place as a result of a joint intervention from UN Women, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF. These efforts contribute to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, which seeks to strengthen the capacity for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks, SDG 10 that focuses on empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status and SDG 11, which includes targets on ensuring access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing, and paying special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, including women, persons with disabilities and older persons.