COVID 19 has been taking all the attention since it started in late December. To date, the virus has infected more than four million people globally, taking the lives of more than 290,000. Living as a refugee in a tent without a stable source of income and having to worry about the virus is a real heavy burden.
The virus is forcing the world to adopt a new style of living where physical distancing and hygiene are a priority. Yasmine, 12, recognizes the importance of all the new safety measures and tries to practice them every day at home. “When I first heard of the virus, I was very scared. But now, after the awareness sessions, I understand how to keep my family and myself safe,” she says. “Whenever we go outside, we have to keep our distance from people. We also have to wear masks and constantly wash our hands,” she adds. At home, Yasmine practices what she learned from the awareness sessions conducted by World Vision’s animator and teaches her younger siblings.
Yasmine and her family escaped the war in Syria and settled in the Bekaa Valley six years ago. “The transition was very hard. We used to live in a concrete house in Syria, and now we have to live in a tent,” Yasmine’s mother Fatima says. “Believe it or not, 15 persons live in this three-room tent. My husband’s brother and his family live here with us as well,” she adds. Fatima’s husband was not able to find a job in the past three or four months. Debt is adding up on the family, especially since Lebanon is facing a huge economic crisis. “To make matters worse, all the merchandise prices doubled. We are barely sustaining ourselves. But for now, I hope that Coronavirus ends soon because health is a priority for me,” Fatima explains.
Feeling nostalgic, Yasmine recalls glimpses from the time she was in Syria. “I remember playing with my cousins outdoor and visiting our grandparents. Life was very simple there. Now we live in a tent. I am constantly afraid that it may catch fire, especially during winter when the heater is on,” she says. Coronavirus affected Yasmine’s life in the informal settlement significantly. “It’s been two months since I last went to school. I am reviewing all my studies on a daily basis so that I can be ready when schools re-open,” she says. “I am not going outside to play with my friends. I spend most of my time in the tent playing with my siblings or cousins,” she adds.
COVID 19 is changing the behaviour of children. Some common changes include excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, difficulty with attention and concentration, and losing social connections. Yasmine and her cousins are very aware of these changes, so they created games that are fun and educational at the same time. “We created different games that we can all take part in and learn. The games teach us how to get rid of an object representing the virus. We have fun playing the games,” She explains.
Humanity may be forced to change their habits and adapt to the changes for an indefinite period. It is everyone’s responsibility now to keep their surrounding society safe. Yasmine is a great example of how anyone can do their part, regardless of the circumstances they live in. “ I wish the Coronavirus pandemic will end soon so I can go back to school and see my friends. Until then, people need to keep social distancing and cleaning their hands,” she says.
Learn more about and/or support World Vision’s global work to limit the spread of COVID-19 and support the children impacted by it on our COVID-19 Emergency Response Page.