I am sitting in front of my living room window as I write, looking onto our neighborhood in Cambridge, astounded by the change that has transpired on Harvard’s campus, and in our world, in six weeks time. It is my deepest hope that, as a part of our cherished community, you are reading this in good health and that your communities are making their very best efforts to thrive and survive the challenges facing us now.

As people, institutions, and nations around the world transition to a new normal in the face of COVID-19, we will experience loss – as so many have, especially those already vulnerable in our society – as well as another kind of life. Our hope at SICI is that, throughout this current moment, but also well into the future, those of us with material, emotional, and spiritual resources will show up for those in crisis. And that those who need help are bolstered by unwavering support from the collective. Now more than ever, our interdependence is clear and our solidarity is paramount.

Since the reality of COVID hit our campus, we have been awestruck by the examples of innovation emerging from within our network of students, alumni, faculty colleagues, practitioners, and local government here in Massachusetts.

Some like Dr. Mohamed Aburawi and his organization, Speetar, are accelerating the pace and quality of disease response. Mohamed originally designed Speetar’s telemedicine platform to address the disturbing post-conflict medical shortage in his home country of Libya by connecting a highly motivated diaspora of physicians to citizens with chronic medical conditions. In just a few weeks, Speeter stood up an app that is now also serving as the primary instrument used by Libya’s National Center of Disease Control and Ministry of Health to find, track, and treat citizens with the coronavirus.

Others, like Georges Clement at JustFix.nyc are ensuring economic justice for those disproportionately affected at this time. JustFix is an NYC-based tech nonprofit that builds data-driven tools for tenants and advocates fighting displacement. Nearly 100% of emergency Housing Court cases filed during COVID will be processed through JustFix.

When resources are scarce, as they are now, supporting organizations that fill the gaps in our social system yields an even greater return on investment than during “normal times.” If you have not yet done so, please scan the horizon of social organizations in your community and give all you can to the ones that move you.

As for our team, our sense of responsibility and our investment priorities begin with our immediate community – including you, the person reading this newsletter. In times of uncertainty, relationships really do matter most. So please, if we have not yet connected, be in touch and let us know how you are doing, what you are seeing out there, and if there is something we might at SICI do for, or alongside, you.

With gratitude,

Brittany Butler
Executive Director, SICI
Adjunct Lecturer, HKS

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