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Categories: World News

The Pandemic Through The Eyes Of Children


CHICAGO (AP) – These are children during the pandemic.

In the northern Canadian city of Iqaluit, a boy has been glued to the news to learn all he can about the new coronavirus. A girl in Australia sees a vibrant future, albeit tinged with the sadness of lost lives. A Rwandan boy fears that the military will violently repress citizens when his country lifts confinement.

There is sadness, boredom, and much concern, especially for parents who work despite the epidemic, for grandparents whom they cannot visit on weekends, and for friends who are only seen by video on a screen.

Some children feel safe and protected. Others are afraid. And yet, many also find joy in playing and even nonsense.

Reporters from The Associated Press interviewed children from around the world about what it is like to live during the virus outbreak and asked them to use art to show us what they think the future holds. Some drew or painted, while others sang, danced ballet, or built with LEGO. Some just wanted to talk.

In the northern California forests, an indigenous Karuk boy wrote a rap song to voice his concerns about how his tribe of just 5,000 people will survive the pandemic.

Their concerns resemble those of many places in resilience and hope, for a life beyond the virus.

This is life in confinement through the eyes of children:

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LILITHA JIPHETHU, 11, SOUTH AFRICA

Lilitha Jiphethu made a ball out of discarded plastic bags to keep herself entertained during the running of the bulls. She and her four brothers play with that ball almost every day in a small outdoor space that was fenced outside their home.

She screams when her brothers throw the ball at her. Then he laughs, picks it up and throws it at them. This happens over and over again.

Lilitha’s house is like hundreds of others in this squatter settlement of poor families in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa. It is made of scrap metal sheets nailed to wooden beams.

Like many other children in confinement, she misses her friends and teachers and, most of all, she misses playing her favorite game, netball. But he understands why the school is closed and why they keep them at home.

“I feel bad because I don’t know if my family (can catch it) from this coronavirus,” says Lilitha. “I don’t like this crown.”

She prefers to sing than to draw and chooses to sing a church song in her mother tongue, Xhosa, to describe the future after the pandemic. He misses his chorus, but consoles himself with the lyrics of the song.

Smile when it starts. Her sweet voice runs through the only room in her house.

“I have a friend in Jesus,” he sings. “He is loving and is like no other friend.”

“He is not dishonest. He is not ashamed of us. “

“He is sincere and He is love.”

—Bram Janssen and Gerald Imray

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HUDSON DRUTCHAS, 12, UNITED STATES

Hudson Drutchas waited and worried as his mother and sister recovered from the new coronavirus while being quarantined in their rooms. Just a few weeks earlier, he was a busy sixth grader at Lasalle II Public Elementary in Chicago. And then the governor issued the order to stay home.

Now the soft-spoken 12-year-old is receiving schoolwork on the computer and looking for comfort in his dog Ty and his cat Teddy.

“Since I don’t see much of my friends, they are like my closest friends,” he says. He laughs when 9-year-old Teddy growls. “Sometimes he gets very crabby because he’s old. But we still love him very much. ”

When not doing homework, Hudson jumps on his trampoline and climbs around a door frame equipped for rock climbing, something he normally does competitively.

He knows that he is lucky, with a good house and a family that keeps him safe, but it is difficult to be patient. “It makes me feel sad that I miss a part of my childhood,” he says.

When he draws his vision of the future, Hudson draws a detailed pencil sketch showing life before and after the new coronavirus.

The previous world is desolate and full of contamination in the drawing. Going forward, the city is lush, with clear skies and more trees and wildlife.

“I think the environment could recover or maybe grow again,” says Hudson.

However, it feels uncertain. “I am concerned with what life will be like after this. Will it change much? ”

—By Martha Irvine

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ALEXANDRA KUSTOVA, 12, RUSSIA

Difficult times can have a positive side. Alexandra Kustova has understood this during this pandemic.

Now that your studies are done online, you have more time for your two favorite hobbies: ballet and puzzles. You can also spend more time with your family and help your grandmother, who lives in the same building, two floors below her apartment, in Yekaterinburg, a city in the Ural Mountains, the mountain range that partially divides Europe from Asia.

Together, they take the time to water the tomato plants and enjoy each other’s company. Time runs slower.

“Before this, I would have breakfast with them, run to school, come back, have dinner, go to ballet classes, come back and it was time to go to bed,” says Alexandra.

Ballet has been her passion since she was 8 years old. Now she takes classes at home and sends videos of her exercises to the coach, who gives her feedback.

The ballet featuring an AP reporter begins slowly and ends with leaps in the air.

Like the pandemic, Alexandra says, it is “sad at first and then it becomes happy.”

“I think the end is happy because we must continue to live, continue to grow,” he says.

—By Yulia Alekseeva

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TRESOR NDIZIHIWE, 12, RWANDA

There is not school. There are no games with friends. Soldiers everywhere. This is life during the pandemic for Tresor Ndizihiwe, a 12-year-old boy living in Rwanda, one of seven brothers and sisters.

Her mother, Jacqueline Mukantwari, is paid $ 50 a month as a school teacher, but she used to earn extra money by teaching private classes. That business is over and the family receives food packages from the government twice a month.

The only time Tresor spends outside is in a small patio on one side of his house.

“The day is long,” he says in his native language, the kiñaruanda. “You can’t go out there,” the world points out outside his house, “and that makes me feel very uncomfortable.”

Tresor draws a picture of the future that shows soldiers shooting protesting civilians, he says. Add splashes of red paint to the side of one of the fallen ones.

“There is blood,” he says, “and some cry, as you can see.”

It is a crude image for a child. Rwanda was the first country in Africa to impose total confinement due to the virus. It is also a place where the security forces that are supposed to help keep people safe have been accused of serious abuses of power.

However, he wants to be a soldier.

Jacqueline says her son is a good student, “very smart”. It is not easy for him to reconcile his desire to join the army with the image he has drawn.

—By Daniel Sabiiti and Gerald Imray

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JEIMMER ALEJANDRO RIVEROS, 9, COLOMBIA

Life in rural Colombia has become even more difficult for the family of Jeimmer Alejandro Riveros.

The price of herbs and vegetables that her single mother and siblings grow on a farm in Chipaque has decreased. Poor internet connection makes virtual classes difficult, and nationwide quarantine means less time outdoors.

“Here is a mountain with a river,” says Jeimmer, and points to everything in his drawing. In his mind, the future does not seem so different. “Here I am. Here is my mommy. This is my brother. This is my home. This is the Sun and here is the sky. ”

The family recently launched a YouTube channel with videos showing how to grow and reproduce plants, and they now have more than 420,000 followers. The first video, featuring Jeimmer’s mom, older brother, and dog, has been played more than 1 million times.

“Let’s make it go viral!” Says Jeimmer, with birds singing in the background.

Colombia is one of the most unequal countries in Latin America, and poverty abounds in rural areas, where many still lack basic services such as drinking water. The Jeimmer family often walks 40 minutes a day to get fresh milk.

Bogotá, the capital city, approximately one hour from the family farm, has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Colombia. But more and more cases are being identified in rural areas with few hospitals. Chipaque reported its first case earlier this month.

Despite the obstacles, Jeimmer maintains an optimistic outlook on life in quarantine. She feels safe from the virus with her mom and brother. And imagine a future with more time outdoors and, one day, with an adult job.

“It doesn’t matter that we are locked up,” he says. “We can be happy”.

—By Christine Wardrobe

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ISHIKIIHARA E-KOR, 11, UNITED STATES

Ishikiihara E-kor misses all the normal things for kids during the pandemic: playing baseball, hanging out with her friends, and having a real party for her eleventh birthday, which she celebrated with family members on a Zoom call. He often runs out of internet for hours, making it difficult for him to complete his schoolwork, so he plays with his dog Navi Noop Noop.

But Shiki, as his friends call him, also has more important things on his mind. He is an indigenous Karuk, a member of the second largest tribe in California, and has read about how the pandemic devastates the Navajo Nation, another tribe hundreds of kilometers away.

The virus can be felt far away in the small Orleans, Calif., Region where the crystal-clear Klamath River winds through densely forested mountains south of the Oregon-California border. But in a rap Shikii wrote, he asks his tribe members not to trust themselves.

Stay away, man, at least six feet. Social distance can save us all. Than? There are about 5,000 of us left, the Karuk tribe, man, and those are all of us. ”

Ishikiihara, whose full name means “sturgeon warrior” in the Karuk language, adds: “Even if we lost only a few people, it would be very sad.”

Rapping about his concerns is not new to him. He has a song about how his tribe lost their traditional salmon catch in the Klamath River, and reflects in verse why the Karuk “needed permission to go fishing.”

—By Gillian Flaccus

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BANEEN AHMED, 10, JORDAN

Despite the difficulties she has experienced, the quiet and studious little girl is brimming with hard-earned optimism.

The suffering of her family in the Iraq of war has taught Baneen Ahmed that external events can turn life upside down in an instant. During the chaotic aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq, an uncle was kidnapped, a great-uncle was killed by armed militias, and his family was forced to seek refuge in Jordan.

In comparison, the coronavirus pandemic seems manageable, says the 10-year-old girl. Scientists will find a vaccine, he says, speaking in battered English but with a very good vocabulary. English is her favorite subject of study in a private school in Amman, the Jordanian capital.

“It will take a year or a little longer to find a cure, so it’s going to end,” says Baneen, who prefers to talk and show how he studies at home under lockdown rather than drawing.

“In Iraq, it will not end,” he continues. “It is very difficult to put an end to the murders and the kidnappings.”

In the future he sees himself studying abroad, perhaps in the United States or Turkey. You have thought about a career in medicine, but you are excited by any opportunity to learn. For her, school represents hope.

“I want to go somewhere else because they will allow us to study good things,” says Baneen. “And my future will be good.”

—By Karin Laub

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ELENA MORETTI, 11, ITALY

For Elena Moretti, the pandemic is not a distant threat. Italy was the first European country hit by COVID-19, and its mother is a doctor in the public health system that has registered 27,500 infected and more than 160 dead among its ranks.

Elena, 11, is afraid of the new coronavirus. Every time a package arrives in the mail, she takes it out on the terrace and disinfects it with a bottle soap solution that she prepared herself.

It is a bottle, too, that captures the virus inside Elena’s drawing.

“The virus wanted to attack us, so instead of knocking us down, we co-attacked and imprisoned him,” he said of his drawing.

That fighting spirit has helped Elena overcome more than two months of confinement. After an initial period where she slept late because her teachers had not yet transitioned to remote learning, Elena now does her homework, taking karate and hip-hop classes online.

Sometimes the internet connection is cut. But he has managed to keep in touch with his friends, and some video calls have lasted for hours. He also discovered a new hobby: baking desserts like apple pies, cupcakes, and cream-filled puff pastries.

Now that the running of the bulls in Italy has begun to rise, Elena begins to emerge, but the fear persists.

“I’m afraid it will spread even further and we will all catch it,” he said.

—By Paolo Santalucia

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NIKI JOLENE BERGHAMRE-DAVIS, 11, AUSTRALIA

When you don’t move enough, you don’t sleep well. So Niki Jolene Berghamre-Davis tries to hike into the forest whenever possible during this pandemic. Even at its best, it’s where the 11-year-old from Port Melbourne, Australia feels most at home.

“She is our child of nature,” says her mother, Anna Berghamre.

So her mom was not surprised that Niki Jolene drew a self-portrait in front of a grove. In the drawing, there are caution signs.

“I have a mask on hand because, well, I just took it off and I’m still conscious,” he says as he holds up the drawing.

He says that the leaves that fall on his drawing symbolize the lives that have been lost in this pandemic.

However, the roots of the trees — broad and prominent, like those of red eucalyptus trees that bloom near her family’s home — represent “possibilities,” says the cheerful girl who some of her friends call “Snickers.” . Smile frequently, and reveal the braces on your teeth.

“After this crown pandemic, when this is over, I think everything will be much more alive,” he says, raising his arms to emphasize. She hopes, for example, that people will walk more and drive less because she has noticed that people in her neighborhood have often done things without their car during confinement.

“I think people will no longer take things for granted.”

—By Martha Irvine

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DANYLO BOICHUK, 12, UKRAINE

Danylo Boichuk envies her cat, Kari, who can escape the family home in a Kiev suburb and be free. Due to the pandemic, her family had to cancel a summer camp in Bulgaria, and Danylo, 12, is very concerned about closed borders.

Sitting on his back porch, he has used his LEGO blocks and figures to create his version of the future: a situation on the border.

“This is a ship heading to Copenhagen and border guards inspect it,” explains Danylo, pointing to the pieces that detain others. “This crew member shows medical evidence that everyone on board is healthy except for one man in an isolation cell.”

The plastic figure makes a noise when he drops it in the makeshift jail.

“There is a security guard who restricts contact with that man,” he continues. “There are specialists in information technology at work. There are also people who have lost their jobs: musicians, farmers, artists. ”

The boy wonders if the authorities in some countries will use the crisis of the new coronavirus to reinforce their control over people’s lives. “For example, they could implant chips to track where (people) are …”, Danylo assumes.

Her parents say she has an analytical mind. He wants to become a businessman in the future and create a company to develop online games. He has read books about Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, and other famous entrepreneurs during isolation.

After the pandemic, he says that people will invest more in products and games online.

“This is an opportunity that we must use,” he says.

—By Dmitry Vlasov

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ANA LAURA RAMÍREZ LAVANDERO, 10, CUBA

Her drawing represents a fairly simple dream for a 10-year-old girl: “Trip to the beach”. On the sheet, he colored a palm tree with three brown coconuts, a boat floating in the distance, and a bright yellow Sun.

It is a scene that represents life in his island country, famous for its white sand and blue waters. However, for now Ana Laura Ramírez Lavandero can only dream of the beach. Due to the mandatory confinement, she is confined to her apartment on a fourth floor where she lives with her parents and grandmother. On the balcony, look at life through a rusty iron lattice. It may seem like a prison.

“My life changed,” says the girl, who is used to playing on the street in her middle-class, working-class neighborhood in Havana.

The only time he has been able to leave his home in almost two months was to go to the dentist for an emergency. Schools are closed, and since many people in Cuba do not have internet, the Ministry of Education transmits the lessons on state television.

Ana Laura dreams of becoming a famous drummer. This was her first year at a highly selective institute for students identified early on as musically talented. He continues with his math, history and Spanish classes, but not music.

Her children’s choir can’t get together now either. Usually, their choir meets with another of boys and girls of all ages.

“People feel united in the choir,” he says wistfully. She is eager to see them again.

—By Andrea Rodríguez

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THE SANWERIA BROTHERS, 8 AND 9, INDIA

Advait Vallabh Sanweria, 9, smiles as his younger brother lists all the things they have done during the lengthy confinement in India.

“They spank us, scold us, watch movies, cook, sweep the floor and use the phone and make Skype calls,” says Uddhav Pratap, 8, in Hindi.

Sometimes siblings are a kind of comedy routine, or at least a danger to the furniture in your home. They converted a room into a cricket ground, where one brother pitches the ball and the other punts. Sometimes they play something calmer, like chess or Uno.

Excited at first because the school closed indefinitely, the brothers miss being able to leave.

“It’s frustrating being locked up in our houses,” says the 9-year-old Advait Vallabh of the mandatory confinement that has since been somewhat relaxed. “When I get frustrated, sometimes I read a book. Sometimes I cry”.

Recently, the siblings were excited to see a rainbow cross the blue sky outside their home.

“The climate has changed a lot,” says Advait Vallabh, pointing to the visibly fresh air in Delhi, as pollution in the always polluted city has dramatically decreased during the closure.

Despite its ups and downs, the brothers believe the closure should continue for a year.

“They should not reopen until there are zero cases left,” says Uddhav Pratap.

—By Rishi Lekhi and Rishabh Raj Jain

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OWEN WATSON, 12, CANADA

Dressed in a fur-lined parka made by his mother, and with a cell phone in hand, Owen Watson takes a tour of his city, Iqaluit, in the territory of Nunavut, in the extreme north of Canada. There is still snow on the ground in May, although the days are already longer in this place known for its spectacular views of the northern lights.

“That light blue place is the school he used to go to,” says Owen, 12, of the closed structure behind him. Then he turns to the playground. “We shouldn’t be playing there now.”

Surrounded by rivers, lakes and the ocean, full of alpine trout, his father, Aaron Watson, says that the name of his city means “fish” in Inuktitut, the language spoken by the Inuit, like Owen, his mother and his sister. Her dad is originally from Stratford, Ontario, and works in the tourism industry in Nunavut.

For now, under the confinement of the entire country, Owen keeps busy with his teachers’ work packages, rides his bike around the city, quieter than usual, and tries not to worry too much.

Her dad has observed that Owen watches the news about the new coronavirus and wonders if they are raising a future scientist.

So far, no cases of the new coronavirus have been documented in the population of approximately 8,000 people, many of whom work for the federal government and the city. When there are flights, they can go to the Canadian capital, Ottawa, in three hours.

So young Owen thinks it is only a matter of time before the virus arrives. “If I get here I will be more afraid,” he says.

Wait and watch. The Sun sets in the west and the clouds reflect shades of pink and purple. It is a lot that a child can think of.

—By Martha Irvine

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