I remember getting the news about the first set of COVID-19 cases in Lagos. I had been following the meltdown of the tourism space. There was an avalanche heading south from Europe and a tornado heading East from the Americas. On their path was Nigeria. The data could have helped us prepare drastically but we were depending on melanin, Sunshine and a widespread rhetoric of ‘it is not our portion’.
Then it became our portion. I remember frantically reaching out to our vendors even before the index case in Nigeria – airlines, resorts in Cape Verde, visa officers in Dubai, apartment complexes in Tokyo, national parks in Kilimanjaro – trying to get as much refunds as we could possibly get. I remember watching dozens of our community members pull out from trips because they were concerned for their safety. I remember running through Excel sheets (my favorite tool ever) counting and recounting the number of zeros on our debts and losses. I remember crying for our hardworking team, for our community, for Nigeria, for the world.
But beyond how difficult this is for our company – Luzago (formerly TVP) – and the entire travel industry, the collapse of our society as we once knew it is an opportunity for us to regroup. With Nigeria (Lagos, especially) ramping up testing capacity to get a sneak peak into the true situation in the country, our lockdown period seems long and tortuous. I alluded in a tweet last week that this feels like mass punishment in school; it is painful but at least everyone is dealing with it. What is scary is the potential death toll, the burden on our healthcare system, the indefinite pause for those whose depend on daily work to survive, and the seeming callousness of people who simply do not want to pay attention to the lockdown guidelines. That’s scary! It looks like there is a disconnect between what’s going on on the front-lines and what information people are receiving.
That’s why we want to help bridge this disconnect. Our creative team has been telling stories from around the world for over three years and we know how to simplify complex stories and engage a disoriented audience. First, we launched Show Me One Thing – an awe-inspiring page for those who want to learn something incredible about a place, festival or culture in the world every day. Now, this pandemic is the most important travel story, the most important story – period, that needs to be told right now.
So, where did the title of the series come from? Fire in Our Lungs (#fireinourlungs) is a literal reminder of how important this war is to our lives, livelihoods and our history. Patients who’ve suffered the most severe symptoms of COVID-19 report that it feels like there’s ice in their lungs. And we know that when ice is cold enough, it burns. Right now, there’s fire on the mountain, fire in our streets and fire in our lungs.
Every Tuesday, until we come out of this lockdown, our team will share one photo taken on the front-lines of the COVID-19 war. We are hoping to cover a broad range of stories from policemen working hard to enforce the lockdown to testing centers. Kingsley, Uzor and Okhai will take photos that speak to what’s going on in Lagos and where necessary, Okhai will assist Diusor and Funmi in putting these stories to words. Friday’s the most reliable person to handover plans and logistics too and that’s no different with our digital experiences. Nifemi and Nnenna continue to hold up our digital marketing space because when you have a community that’s invested in exploring the world, a pandemic does not stop that curiosity. We have permission to do journalistic work and we have mostly had cooperation from the policemen we’ve met on the streets.
View all the weekly photos from this series on our Instagram page.
Like we always do, we want the community to be engaged. If you see something that’s worth sharing, please share it with us and tag us! We will share with a wider audience. Follow us at @tvpadventures on Instagram and Twitter and tell us what you know about those incredible heroes working on the frontlines.
We will get through this, together, apart!