Paola from Colombia about her personal dismay

7. How are you personally affected by corona?

The pandemic has certainly changed my life and that of my family completely. The curfew is of course the biggest constraint in our lives. We haven't been able to meet my parents, siblings and friends for weeks. Everyday life is mainly shaped by your own four walls.

My almost three-year-old daughter is happy that her dad can be at home more, but she misses her friends and just going outside to the park. Professionally speaking, the current situation is of course not necessarily beneficial. For example, many of my friends have already had their salaries cut significantly. Unfortunately, the regular areas of operation of my small company are now also at a standstill. In order for us to make ends meet and cover our running costs, we had to break new ground. In order to keep afloat and to make a contribution to the current crisis response, we are now using our capital and our logistics to bring certified personal protective equipment to Colombia.

Unfortunately, this is not an easy task, because products such as visors, face masks or protective clothing are highly fought over on the world market. All this is made more difficult not only by dubious offers, delivery delays and high costs due to supply bottlenecks, but also by the fact that many manufacturing countries have prohibited the export of such medical products, at least temporarily. The supply of threshold and developing countries is almost completely dependent on deliveries from the producing countries, so in my opinion export bans and restrictions are counterproductive and out of place in the context of a pandemic.

Fortunately, we received the first deliveries about two weeks ago. We managed to fly in a manageable amount of products, clear them by the customs authorities and finally have them brought to our warehouse outside the capital. Something like this is not an easy process in Colombia. The challenges of setting up something like this are currently immense and a lot can go wrong - unfortunately we have already had to experience this.

Because since the beginning of the year we have been trying to bring textile machines from France to Colombia. The beginning was  already bumpy. After an approximately 12-week odyssey with strikes at French ports, a long overseas voyage, the subsequent reloading at the port in Cartagena and a two-day transport by land through the Andes, the containers had finally arrived in Bogotá. On the same day that we were allowed to pick up the machines in the customs warehouse, the mayor of the capital imposed the first curfew due to the coronavirus pandemic. It took a lot of stamina until we finally got a permit and at the end of May we were able to find a freight forwarder who was able to move the machines, each weighing around 15 tons. Fortunately, these are now in our production hall and we can start to put them into operation. As soon as the demand rises again, we will finally start using the new machines. We can only hope that the times of Corona will soon be over.

Translated from Spanish

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