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Three people cope with change as the pandemic upends their world

Samela Satere-Mawe, Manaus, Brazil

Biology student Samela Satere-Mawe , 23, serves as secretary of the Association of Satere-Mawe Indigenous Women in Manaus, Brazil. Despite her youth, Samela—whose indigenous name means “bee”—is already committed to fighting for the rights of her people.

But the association—which has long thrived by selling handicrafts made from Amazonian products, mainly to tourists—has seen its usual activities come to a halt, thanks to COVID-19. The group began making face masks—initially for its members’ own use and later for sale more broadly. Their work drew the attention of organizations that donated sewing machines, material, and even food. Samela coordinates the production of face masks that are now the lifeblood of the association, which has successfully pivoted to stay afloat during the pandemic.

Photography and reporting by RAPHAEL ALVES in Manaus, Brazil.

Lupe Salmeron Ibarra, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Lupe Salmeron's coming graduation from Edgewood College in her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, was set to make her first in her family to obtain a degree. Family in Mexico would fly in to celebrate. And with a spring internship in Washington, D.C., she was poised to snag a full-time job in American politics.

COVID-19 dismantled it all. When both her congressman’s office and the restaurant where she worked part time were shuttered in March, Lupe, an undocumented immigrant who came to the United States at age six, returned to Madison. For a time, she worked as a credit union teller to help defray the steep tuition that noncitizens like her must pay. And then she contracted COVID-19 herself.

After isolating with mild symptoms, she returned to her job before joining the staff of a local nonprofit that helps Latinx youth prepare for college. While helping others achieve their goals, she keeps sight of her own. “If more people in my generation get into politics, we can reflect on how the system is broken,” she says, “and focus on what we want to change.”

Photography and reporting by ARIANA LINDQUIST in Madison, Wisconsin.

Raja Mia, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Raja Mia, 45, is a rickshaw driver who lives with his wife, Beauty, and youngest son, Bishal, age 7, in Bangladesh’s capital. Their house has just one room, and they share cooking and sanitary facilities with members of other families.

Originally from a rural village, Raja moved to Dhaka in hopes of making a better life. On a normal day, Raja makes $7, barely enough to provide for his family. When the COVID-19 crisis hit and things officially closed the city down on March 25, his work slowed to a trickle and his family had to rely on neighbors for food. Raja’s daily income dropped to $2.50. Some days, he just stays at home. He doesn’t worry too much about getting COVID-19. “If I don’t work, we will die anyway,” he says.

Photography and reporting by K. M. ASAD in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Opinions expressed in articles and other materials are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect IMF policy.