For women smiling. Text: are you connected to care?

GenderIT and Locnet invited women who work in CNs to share their experiences in the times of COVID-19 and their reflections on what these times have revealed around centering meaningful communication in their physical and digital communities. This is one of the stories that got to be told about the acts of care in communication technlogies under the pandemic.

Here in Brazil, when Carnival ends in February, all the projects begin to take shape. But the pandemic has arrived and frustration, distance, loneliness have taken the place of work and projects… I dived deep and I found in the community network a way to keep going. I did my first installation with a partner, we created a collective feminist song, we created radio programmes, we looked for possibilities in the virtual… That's when my partners invited me to join them in the project of interviews with women from community networks around the world.

The following drawings are intended to bring to light and colour the experiences under Covid-19 and lockdown of women working in community networks. The images were based on three interviews that investigated how they are surviving, how the pandemic times affected them, their work, their surroundings. I talked with three women from different countries.

Chako Armant, from Congo, leads the project and research implementation processes, capturing data from monitoring, evaluation, and impact on the Pamoja Net.

Immaculate Laker of Uganda is a technical assistant and has developed skills in installation, configuration, maintenance and troubleshooting of wireless networks, as well as creating and maintaining a database and installing solar photovoltaic panels on rooftops and masts in BOSCO Uganda.

Risper Akinyi works in Tunapanda Net in Kenya and trains a group of feminists on digital literacy, privacy and security, and gender-based online violence. She has been involved in expanding women's voices through training women leaders in Kibera slums on ICTs and governance.

It was inspiring how, as in a chemical experiment, these women had to transform the "substances" of depression, confusion, paranoia, economic stress, abuse, violence, anxiety, ignorance and disturbance, into teaching, engagement, receptions, meeting, growth, perspective, development, inclusion, connection, information, curiosity, rhythm and creation.

There was no magic, but good "key catalysers": mission, efforts, integration, maintenance, protection, technology, improvement, communication and much care.

I was enchanted by their words, their photos, by what I could feel of their cultures. We exchanged, we built bridges between worlds.

I heard a lot from them about being a woman, about being a woman and participating in community networks, about being a woman and exchanging with women and strengthening these new spaces with technologies. I heard about loving the work, about loving the care of those with whom we work. I think we are beginning to understand the richness of these connections, looking at them as vital.

I immersed myself in quarantine and in their stories and my coloured pencils showed me the way to bring what I could feel, recognise and learn from their paths and efforts.  Cables, connections, smiles, tears and moons turned into lines and beauty. Thank you, Chako, Immaculate and Risper for sharing, Luisa and Marcela for partnership. And thank you, Lira (my daughter), for lending me the black pen.

Texts and illustrations: Lia Aroeira (Portal sem Porteiras community network, Monteiro Lobato, Brazil)

Scanning and layout design: Ana Muriel (artist and designer, Brasil)


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I'm so happy to see such an amazing job. Proud of you Lia!

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