Thousands of kilometres from my New Zealand home, it gives me a sense of comfort, and a deeper sense of pride, to see Amsterdammers take on these unprecedented times with compassion and comradeship. It strikes me that doing good is a sentiment that feels right when everything else feels wrong. You don’t need to look hard to find the many acts of kindness and generosity taking place across the country in the face of the current circumstances. Businesses, community groups, non-profits and volunteers have banded together to bring something lighter to our news feeds. Here are just a few that caught my attention.
With schools and daycare centres closed, and parents doing their best to homeschool their kids, libraries have made it easier to keep little learners entertained. All 27 branches of Amsterdam Public Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, OBA) are currently closed, but they have extended their free online access to e-books and audiobooks for children, adults and even non-members. VoorleesExpress, a group dedicated to nurturing children’s Dutch language skills through reading, have rallied their volunteers to read stories to kids online – giving parents a well-deserved break. In addition, university archives and audiobook apps like Audible have granted free access to their children’s collections.
Taking care of business
Local business owners and freelancers can rest assured that the Dutch government and the City of Amsterdam have introduced measures to help them during these lean times, including various forms of income support and tax referrals. As a thoughtful gesture to your neighbourhood barista, hairdresser or florist, consider purchasing a gift card which you can redeem when they reopen.
Wear your heart on your street
Here’s a sweet one. Kids and families have been busy drawing hearts in colourful chalk on the pavement outside their homes. The trend has taken off across the city – check them out on Instagram.
Say it with flowers
Ninety percent of the world’s flowers are grown in the Amsterdam Area, and growers are feeling the effects of lesser demand for their rainbow-coloured harvests. Generously, the unsold blooms from the auctions in Aalsmeer and Naaldwijk were donated to hospitals and care homes as a thank you to the relentless efforts of healthcare professionals.
To the heroes on the frontline
From doctors and nurses to medical researchers, hospital administration and support staff, healthcare workers across the country deserve our eternal gratitude. In a display of recognition, they received a nationwide standing ovation for their efforts that brought a tear to many an eye. There have also been drives to arrange housing for medical staff, and the City of Amsterdam, along with several other cities in the Netherlands, have introduced a special free parking permit – reducing the need for public transport.
Raising your heart rate is a proven way to raise your spirits, even if you’re stuck inside. The city’s best fitness centres, gyms and yoga studios have brought their classes to your living room, getting creative with livestreams, IGTV and virtual personal training. Some of my favourites include Saints and Stars, Equal Yoga, Studio 191 and Delight Yoga.
Since we first heard the term “social distancing”, Amsterdammers took it upon themselves to drop off boxes of supplies to family and friends who couldn’t leave their homes. Including food items, household essentials, books, games and handwritten notes, the packages brought warm wishes and a sense of connection to those who needed it most.
OK, but what can I do?
You can help. (And if you’re staying home, practising social distancing and frequently washing your hands – you’re already helping). See our guide to the many Amsterdam-based initiatives that offer support where it’s most needed, and get involved.