Mundusians under the Covid-19 Lockdown: Part 1 - Sarah B. Haider

Join us for the first interview in our series about Mundusians under the Covid-19 Shutdown. Today, we say hello to Sarah B. Haider (2016-2018) who shares her lockdown experience in Karachi, Pakistan.

2020.04.21 | Ellie Sellwood

Sarah B Haider is working from home in Karachi, Pakistan.

We’re living in unprecedented times. Just a few weeks ago none of us would have believed that the world would go into lockdown to try to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. And yet, here our alumni are, working from home, navigating new online tools and getting through the lockdown wherever they happen to be in the world. It’s one of the first moments when everyone, regardless of time zone, is in the same boat, so welcome to our Mundusians under the Covid-19 Lockdown series.

Today, we kick off with Mundus alumna Sarah B. Haider who graduated from our Swansea specialisation in 2018. She’s currently working as a multimedia journalist for The Express Tribune, a national newspaper, in Karachi Pakistan. Here, she shares her story of life under lockdown.

Mundus Journalism: What is the situation like where you are right now? How long have Covid-19 measures been in place? What’s the mood like?

Sarah: There are now more than 8,600 cases countrywide, with more than 2,700 in the province of Sindh where I live. We have just completed the fourth week of the lockdown but people are not taking the situation seriously. People are violating the orders of the government and there is a lot of resistance from religious people who don’t want to stop going to mosques.

In short, with a limited number of testing kits and inadequate medical facilities, the provincial government is urging people to stay at home but the general public is not taking things seriously.

Mundus Journalism: How have the Covid-19 measures affected your work?

Sarah: Right now, I’m unable to go out for reporting tasks because of the nationwide lockdown. The lockdown also means that we are having a hard time filing some stories because some pieces require extensive coverage and legwork.

MJ: What kind of tools have you been using to facilitate working remotely?

Sarah: Slack, google docs, WhatsApp groups, and traditional phone calls.

MJ: What does your job look like right now? What kind of measures does your company have in place to protect you?

Sarah: As we work for a newspaper, every team member has to go to the office on a weekly basis for the process of making pages and to look at other technical stuff. This means that some skeleton staff have to be present at the office on a daily basis.

The company has provided pick and drop services to employees so that they don’t have to use public transport. They check your temperature when you enter the office, encourage employees  to use hand sanitiser, and they have also made it obligatory to wear a mask. They’ve also made the shifts rotational (as each member only goes in once a week) so that the office doesn’t get crowded.

MJ: Do you have any tips or tricks for fellow Mundusians working in the same field as you?

Sarah: If you really have to go out, make sure you follow all of the preventative measures as best you can, but, if things can be done via phone, messages, utilise that option first. Safety first!

MJ: How do you think your job will be affected in the long-term i.e. once Covid-19 measures have been lifted/loosened?

Sarah: At the moment, I don’t think that my job will be affected. However, media organisations in Pakistan are well-known for suddenly downsizing so that could happen as their business has been affected. But nothing can be said for sure.

MJ: How do you think the world will change in light of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Sarah: My concerns are economic and environmental. The economy will be adversely affected because of the virus and in turn, every country will try to boost production which could hurt the environment more than before.

MJ: What are your wishes for the world after Covid-19?

Sarah: My wish is that people learn a lesson from this pandemic. I hope that they learn that they should cooperate with the authorities when such a situation arises, and take it seriously. It’s been very disappointing to see how people have been dealing with this situation in Pakistan.

Sarah has been very busy while under lockdown in her home office, check out the articles that she’s written over the past few weeks: 

Thank you, Sarah! Let’s hope that things will start to go back to normal in Pakistan soon. 

Want to join the Mundus Journalism MA programme next year? Applications will open again on 10th November 2020!

Alumni, Graduate Profiles
Tags: Working from home, WFH, Covid-19, Covid-19 shutdown, journalism