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Youth and COVID-19 Diaries: New hobbies have helped me view the lockdown positively

Zimbabwe: 24-year-old Sharon Stella Musonza

Date of Diary: 27 August 2020

The first three months were hard for me as I had no idea how to navigate my way through a life of being alone.

The situation is just bad with this pandemic; we are currently on lockdown and business has been hard hit. It has also affected my relationships in both negative and positive ways. I am currently locked down alone as I stay and work far from my family.

Personally, the first three months were hard as I had no idea how to navigate my way through a life of being alone. I am administrative staff so I go to work but I also applied for a Master's programme to advance my career. However, I discovered new hobbies and started to see the lockdown as a blessing, an opportunity for self development, [and I am] doing a number of courses online. I even started an online campaign against gender-based violence (GBV) for and by adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), She Awakens Movement. I have also invested in my mental health, fitness, and building my networks, while staying up-to-date with COVID-19 updates.

Luckily for me, I am not facing any challenges with accessing sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information and services as I am a peer educator and an advocate for SRHR for AGYW. My worry is how the COVID-19 restrictions have shrunk channels of communication and service provision for schoolgoing AGYW, and how reduced income has heightened period poverty, a key determinant of SRHR among AGYW.

Being there for others

I've also been volunteering in community outreach programmess on advancing gender equality, fighting gender-based violence (GBV), mental health and SRHR. In terms of my family, I have been checking up on them and providing support from time to time, mentoring and tutoring my younger sisters through online platforms. 

I must say though, I really miss going to community awareness/outreach programmes in marginalized areas. I also miss going to the movies and going on dates with my girls, so the first thing I will do when this is all over will be to visit my family and go on movie dates with my friends.

Losing relatives and relationships

Hang in there. Be optimistic. Develop yourself. 

I’m really worried about losing relatives and friends to COVID-19, and losing relationships due to the “distance” created by COVID-19. However, even during this pandemic, I am very grateful for life, health, people and the strength to do more every day, even when things are hard. My advice to other young people in Africa is: Hang in there. Be optimistic. Develop yourself and find ways to achieve the things you are passionate about. Create the future you want today in your youthful days and enjoy it tomorrow with the future generation!

About the #YouthAndCOVID19 Series

The 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 the 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.

To share your story, click here.