Immigrants’ Lives in the Times of COVID-19

Virtual interactions


By Hewton Tavares | Published October 2020


The pandemic has increased virtual interactions between people. At the same time, it has created barriers not only where they live, but also in their surrounding neighbourhoods and work environments. The reports and reflections that I present below, illustrate the changes to the lives of Brazilian immigrants, and the transformations taking place that many have been struggling to adapt to.


New Work Routines



IT professional, Mauricio Silva, confessed that he had underestimated the pandemic and that initially he felt extremely angry. He also revealed that he was experiencing depression. Silva said he would have preferred to work in the office, but has recognized that being required to work from home has improved his quality of life significantly. His life is less hectic and he is now able to enjoy his meals at home in a peaceful manner.


Silva feels the changes he was forced to make as a result of the pandemic should remain in place for the medium term. The company where he works has already advised that he should only return to work in the office in 2021. ”Patience, a lot of patience, because [this] is a situation that will take time to pass”, he emphasized.


Education and media professional, Paulo Lima, also had to start working from home. A resident of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Lima had to find a way to cope with the stress brought on by the pandemic. Meditation became his way of managing the new challenges.


Oncologist Ana Elisa Lohmann felt the immense changes caused by the pandemic even more intensely. The daily routine of the hospital where she works in London, completely changed. Lohmann had to adapt to these subtle changes in her work environment. Sessions were held at the hospital to provide information that would reduce the risks of transmission of Corona virus infections among co-workers and patients. “It changed everything, everything “, she said.


Another adaptation in the oncologist's life during the pandemic was seen at home. Her children could no longer attend school and her husband had to work and study at home. Thanks to her husband's support, the children spent much of their time under their father's care.


The Manifestation of the Virus in the Body and Soul


Social worker Maria Clara de Sena, a resident of Toronto, was profoundly affected by the virus. She initially caught a very bad flu, one like no other she had experienced before.


The possibility of being infected with the virus affected her psychologically. ”I was desperate because I don't know what it's like to die, I was afraid of it.” Sena, then started calling her childhood friends in Brazil to say her last good-byes.


To this day, the social worker does not know if she really had the disease. Whether or not, she continues to use hand sanitizer, along with wearing a mask at all times when indoors.


Sena’s sensitivity to the pandemic has manifested in feelings of insecurity. She suffers from not having a well-established support network in Toronto, as she had in Brazil. Sena is currently receiving physiological support to help her manage.



Teacher and researcher, Monica Malta, lost her father to Covid-19. During this difficult time, she was not able to physically embrace nor be consoled by her mother and sisters. Due to restrictions, only a virtual farewell was allowed. Along with suffering this terrible loss, she also caught the very virus that had killed her Father. “I was bedridden for a month. Even today, I am still having different symptoms, such as fatigue, difficulty in breathing, chronic pain, etc.”, she said.


Having suffered greatly during this pandemic, she reflects upon and shares that we must “enjoy each day, embrace our loved ones, cultivate good friends and maintain a social support network.”


Malta, coincidentally also mentions the experiences of Maria Clara, and brings attention to the needs of immigrants and the importance of their having a strong support network in Canada.


Websites: Specializations & Community and Mental Health Care


The social isolation caused by the pandemic has brought to the forefront the issues of mental health and domestic violence. Teacher and researcher Monica Malta has recommended two websites that relate to her specializations of community and mental health care. Below are the addresses:


The link below is for the website that serves as a reference in the area of mental health in Ontario:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/find-mental-health-support.


The second is for those who are victims of domestic abuse:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-help-if-you-are-experiencing-violence.