In Liberia, schools have been closed for several weeks now and children of all ages are at home now due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving SOS mothers no other choice but having to combine doing household chores, caregiving as well as educational activities almost simultaneously.
“Coronavirus is contagious. This is scary and I hope this can all go away,” says Jugbeh, an SOS mother from SOS Children’s Village Monrovia who currently cares for ten children. Her oldest daughter, Joy* was going about her studies very well prior to the outbreak. Unfortunately, the virus changed everything. She and the rest of the children are confined at home now, upset yet still hopeful that the pandemic will end soon.
“This pandemic has affected the current academic year as well as the social integration process. We’ve been encouraged to observe social and physical distancing but I really hope this virus will disappear sooner than later,” says Joy.
Being the oldest at home, the younger ones look up to her. Joy organizes singing, as well as dancing competitions for her siblings. She believes that this is the time for children to build stronger bonds with their siblings and parents. “Although we do not have the chance to be at school, children can learn a lot outside of the classroom,” she points out.
Life under the pandemic has affected daily life, but Jugbeh’s family is safe and coping despite the challenges. Jugbeh often talks to her children about the deadly nature of the coronavirus and insists on the importance of hand-washing as well as observing physical distancing.
“Things may not feel entirely in place now as compared to before the outbreak but we try to tend to our daily routines, like having family meals on time, playing indoor games, and studying. I have also added regular exercises to our activities to help the children keep fit and healthy,” Jugbeh says.
Jugbeh spends as much time as she can with the children, mostly the younger ones. Usually one-on-one to support them to keep calm and help them manage their stress. The family watches movies and listens to the news together. At times Joy bakes bread for the family.
Jugbeh is optimistic that things will go back to normal. “At first, it was stressful, but now the children are more understanding and are getting along”, she says.
*Name changed for protection and privacy of the child.