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Youth and COVID-19 Diaries: I'm missing social interaction

Gabane, Botswana: 19-year-old Tshepang Malope's Story

Date of Diary session: 16 April 2020

Today is day 15 and I am locked down with my family  my grandparents, mother, siblings and aunts. My routine has changed drastically and this has been very hard for me as I am not used to spending so much time at home [being] idle. Our school has not yet provided us with information on how our lessons will proceed online, so I have devised my own learning plan. Studying at home has proven to be very difficult as there are a lot of distractions.

My routine has become so monotonous for me, so I decided to do something that would occupy my mind. I have a younger brother and sister who are both in primary school. Since lockdown, they have been provided with lots of work to do at home, but without a teacher’s guidance they find it very difficult. I have therefore decided to tutor them. This has proved to be very helpful and refreshing for all of us, and it has brought us closer as siblings.

I have made our learning sessions fun by incorporating videos and games. I’m also now on different virtual social groups, which discuss different topics every day with regards to gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, among other things. My main worry right now is whether my sanitary products will take me through to the end of lockdown.

I am worried that I might run out of  sanitary products in these 28 days of lockdown, and I am not sure if they are considered essentials, just in case I need to apply for a permit to re-stock.

I am worried that I might run out of  sanitary products in these 28 days of lockdown, and I am not sure if they are considered essentials, just in case I need to apply for a permit to re-stock.

Supporting my family through COVID-19

Another thing that has been giving me sleepless nights is the fact that both my grandparents have underlying conditions, with my grandfather having chronic asthma and my grandmother suffering from diabetes, conditions which, coupled with old age, make them even more vulnerable to becoming severely ill if they contract the virus. I ensure that my family stays informed of all updates regarding how to protect themselves and following the government regulations and protocols.

I follow the government of Botswana, Ministry of Health and Wellness and World Health Organization facebook pages for live updates, because I know that's where I can get authentic information. Then I share this information with my family, as they rely mostly on me for all the updates.

Before joining these groups on Facebook, I used to get lots of distorted information from my friends and classmates. This used to give me so much anxiety.

Missing physical and social connections

As a university student, I thrive on social interaction with my classmates and I miss hanging out and having lively discussions on various issues. We try to continue these discussions virtually but it's just not the same. Some of us are on lockdown in remote areas where Internet networks are poor and besides that, data is very expensive for us students. I really can't wait for the day when we will go back to how things were before COVID-19.

I urge all young people to help where they can, especially with vulnerable people like the elderly and those with disabilities, because this is a very difficult situation, especially for them.

Regardless of all this, I am grateful that my country has taken all these measures to help in preventing the spread of this virus. I believe if we all follow the government’s measures and protocols, we will manage to beat this and come out even more united as a nation.

I urge all young people to help where they can, especially with vulnerable people like the elderly and those with disabilities, because this is a very difficult situation, especially for them. So we have to assist where we can to ensure that no one is left behind in accessing authentic information.

About the #YouthAndCOVID19 Series

UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office, through its flagship programme for youth, the Safeguard Young People programme, has been engaging with young people in the region to find out how they are coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of the project is to share best practices among youth and to expose them to the many interventions and responses to COVID-19 that UNFPA and its partners have put in place during this time.

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