Guardians of History in the Times of the Pandemic

This story is part of the United Nations in BiH series of personal accounts highlighting extraordinary work during COVID-19 response and recovery; marking UN75.

              Whilst we interact with each other with masks tightened across our faces, we will have to get used to a new, completely different way of social behavior.

              I work at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was closed to visitors from mid-March to mid-May. We continued to work, but this time we were forced to work from home, which greatly influenced the changes in the dynamics of business and our usual, everyday work ethic. Some jobs required much more time than usual, but the quality and result of what was done remained impeccable. On the other hand, the pandemic caused a number of negative blows, especially financial ones, which additionally endangered the existence of this institution, which has been struggling for decades for the recognized place it deserves in our society.

              Feelings of surprise, discomfort and fear have accompanied me since the spring, when the corona virus officially began its world tour. This is not the first encounter of man with dangerous agents, nor is it the most deadly one, but it is the first in my generation to pose a threat to all of humanity at the same time, with the same intensity and with the same, frightening consequences. Modern society, accustomed to the man being the master of nature, found itself caught in front of microscopic RNA capsules, struggling to find a global defense mechanism. Viruses do not know and do not recognize geographical and social borders, race, economic status, they spread without choosing victims by human standards; thus wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and respecting other protection measures have become our everyday life, our new (ab)normal.

              The fact is that the COVID-19 virus does not give up so easily and that we need to take protection instructions and precaution measures seriously. What all humanity needs at the moment is knowledge and information. Investing in young people, their education and training is just one of the safe paths we must thread. Because in the future we might face similar or worse situations, thus we must be prepared, stronger, smarter. Global unity and cooperation between countries of the world are also very important; as much as the development of the situation depends on individual awareness and willingness to acknowledge individual responsibility, so does the global awareness that we are all equally exposed to the virus, no matter who we are or where we live.

              In that sense, I see the United Nations, with united countries and peoples, as continuing to fight for better quality of life for all people in the world, perhaps under the good, old motto "think globally, act locally."

              Andrea Dautovic is the librarian with the Library of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she has been working since 1980. Andrea graduated from the Faculty of Science, University of Sarajevo, at the Department of Biology. An Adviser at the Museum, she also works as the Head of the General Services Department and the Head of the Library.

UN entities involved in this initiative
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization