Lockdown virtual visit with Dignity co-founder Jacinta Gulasekharam

Lockdown virtual visit with Dignity co-founder Jacinta Gulasekharam

As we all respond to the current health situation here in Aotearoa we thought we would take you behind the scenes and show you a little of the world of our co-founders and general manager during this Level 4, and Level 3 period of lockdown. 

Today we share some reflections and notes on routine and WFH from our wonderful co-founder Jacinta Gulasekharam!

Read on to find out more on Jacinta’s lockdown rituals, who makes up her ‘bubble’ and her dreams for post lockdown travel and future hopes and ambition for Dignity.

Q - Who is in your bubble this lockdown? and who would you love to have in your bubble if you could choose one more person and have them appear by magic?

Kia ora! My bubble consists of my partner Jason and our flatmate Javed, the boys have been so patient with me getting setup WFH and the waves of anxiety this pandemic creates. 

I’d love to have Helen Clark come visit my bubble to show me the meals she makes for her dad’s freezer to look after him when she’s away and to talk about the challenges of leadership being a woman. 

Q - As well as your ongoing involvement with Dignity, what does your workday look like and how has your work routine changed in response to the current lockdown restrictions? 

My workday is typically 8.30am until after 5pm at my new role at PwC, we look to make sure the human is put at the centre of any policy, intervention, workshop or response. 

I’m missing my amazing stroll along the waterfront but I’m enjoying the peace from the lack of traffic living in town. After work I’ve been making sure to pack my work station away to signal the end of the day, get out on the waterfront with my mask if the weather is okay and enjoy some yoga with Adriene on YouTube. I’ve really been missing going to the gym and the usual activity of getting up and moving around. Having different signals like putting my work away and having a regular start time has helped me to create a WFH routine, it helps provide cues to my body about when I can unwind and when I need to work.

Q - Do you have a dedicated work space or does it shift throughout the house? Describe for us your surroundings when WFH and what you like to have on your desk or at hand?

I’ve got our awesome desk in the window with sun, or I’ve created a standing desk at our dining room table if a few of us are working or sometimes I like to go to the ground to increase my mobility. With the increase in screen time I’ve been putting in 15 minute screen breaks to do some cleaning or tidying just to give my eyes a rest so they aren’t zoomed out. 

On my desk I have a really nice kawhe/coffee in the morning in one of my mugs (like the moo mug I made when I was 8), my purple water bottle, a blanket and sometimes a snack like pretzels. After lunch I’ve been loving making the most of my T2 collection and having the beautiful ritual of making a nice cuppa. 

Q - What are your concerns regarding the community of Give Partners that Dignity supports during this time?

Lockdowns are a really challenging time for our community partners to be able to safely provide face to face services. My concern is the isolation and lack of personal contact may mean those who need help can’t access this as easily as well as the goods they may require safely. It’s a struggle to have to navigate what services are available at Level 4 and the protocols for operating, given our experience last year with Dignity. My hope is that enough of us that provide goods and services to those that are under-resourced can access or communicate with us to get what they need in the safest way possible. 

Q - What routines, hacks or daily rituals have you adopted this lockdown? Do you enjoy any virtual ‘social’ events with friends or colleagues?

I really enjoy making Jason a coffee in the morning, it’s not something I usually have time to do and I know how much he appreciates it so I like starting my day that way. Allowing time for some movement that is kind to my body, whether it’s yoga, Les Mills online classes, going up and down my apartment stairs or stretching has helped since I seem to be sitting so much more all day. 

I’ve planned a few work virtual events and last week I hosted online Pictionary using an online whiteboard tool. I don’t remember the last time when I’ve laughed so hard. Watching a colleague try to draw the word “inception” in 60 seconds was a huge highlight. I’m so conscious of screentime, people’s family commitments and needing to have a break from work so I always make sure the events are optional. I’ve also been mindful to say to bring whatever beverage suits whether it’s milk, water, wine or tea. 

Q - While lockdowns are a different experience for everyone they often provide unique moments of clarity and more time to pause and think. What hopes for Dignity and inspiring ideas or new vision have you had over the last week?

It’s been a good time to stop and reflect on where we are and what matters. It’s so easy to keep going and to never properly check in with people. I've always admired Miranda for how she does that with the team and I’ve learnt a lot from her last year. I’m so grateful to all our corporate partners that have grown our initiative beyond what we could have thought possible. I’m really keen for all of our supporters and champions to help feed into our five year plan with what we do next (See our three question survey here)

I want us to take the success of the Wellbeing Impact Award and our upcoming 5th birthday in November to listen to what our community needs. We act as a connecting bridge between period products and people, so what can we do to make sure that we listen to our community and that our period products, language, impact reporting and advocacy reflects what they need from us now and in the future.

Q - One day, when the borders open up again and it is safe to travel, where would you like to visit and what would be the first thing you would do there?

I’d really love to go to Sri Lanka with my partner to explore that side of my heritage and share that experience together. I’ve got a best friend overseas that I miss heaps and I really want to see her new life as she moves across the world. In the short term I’m looking forward to finally having a burger from Wellington on a Plate when we can to support our local businesses and to also get home to Feilding to enjoy a meal with my whānau.

Thank you Jacinta!

Reading next

Voices of Dignity: Claire Stuart
Lockdown virtual visit with Dignity co-founder Miranda Hitching

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