I story: Covid 19- Separated families, friends and colleagues

I story: Covid 19- Separated families, friends and colleagues

Date: April 27, 2020
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By Rita Witbooi

Who would have thought that this virus would reach a point where the whole world would come to a standstill with only essential services in operation. When the president announced the lockdown, it was like cold water over me, because my husband told me that he might be one of the essential workers who had to stay at work during the lockdown period.

My husband works for a children’s home and as they had to do essential services for these vulnerable children during lockdown, he had no choice but to leave me and my two sons behind. It was sad for my two sons and me. We wondered how we were going to cope without my husband and their father. What if one of us fell sick and he is the only one that has a car? This made me reflect on my gender role as a mother and wife, liking and disliking the different facets.

When I woke up on the 27th of March, I did my normal morning prayer and suddenly I realised it is Friday, the day for the dustbins to be put out. It then struck me that I had to be in my role as a mother, but now I also had to switch roles. I had to take on all the chores that my husband normally does, standing in front of this challenge I have to take care of and make sure it gets done. I was sitting at my table sipping my coffee after the dustbin was put outside. I then pondered and decided to make a list of what my husband does at home. The garden needs to be watered, the grass needs to be cut, the doors need to be locked at night and make I have to make sure everything is secured and we are safe. I need to get emergency numbers and a friend with a car who is close by in case anything unexpected happened. While performing an essential service at the organization where I work, I quickly switched and adapted to my new role. In the beginning it was difficult but as the days went by I started to enjoy doing the garden and it amazed me every time there was a new flower coming out and I even planted my own little plant, which I am very proud of. I cleaned the yard with my boys who were helping me and it was fun spending time with them watering the garden together, cleaning outside and inside and it made our bond so much stronger.

In the meantime, I am also worried about the roles my husband had to take on, questions like these are going through my head; Is he eating enough? Is he doing okay because he is not a man who would complain about anything, he will always say he is fine. But is he really fine? My husband must be worried about us as well. It is 27 days that he is away from home and he must be missing his children and his wife and dog as much as we miss him. Going out to the shops to fetch the food for the children of the children’s home must be difficult at the same time. He is amongst a lot of people every day and the risk of getting the virus must also be worrying him. He is doing a great job and we as his family are very proud of him for the service he is giving to these children, but we do wish that the lockdown must end while still keeping in mind the danger of it.

The whole situation almost feels like we have been called to war. Families have been divided while husbands and wives who are essential workers, are separated from each other while serving their country. People on the front lines are putting their lives at risk as if in a war scenario. While some families are in a completely different situation, where none of the family are able to go to work. Men or women who are used to providing for their families have no means of doing this anymore and must be feeling frustrated and desperate to return to their normal roles in their household. Just like in wartime situations, men who are separated from their families, will do anything to return to them but to also do everything they can to keep them safe. Women do their best to keep their families together, safe and fed.

Being both the mother and father is not easy, I have to be strong not for myself but for the children and my little dog. In this time during lockdown, we have grown rapidly as a family and our bond became stronger by the day. We started to communicate more with each other and having more fun times. Every day is a new experience, we watch movies together, I kick ball with the boys, our new puppy is growing so fast and we have become inseparable from him.

During the lockdown, I have so much time to do things I never had the time for before. I see how the flowers come out, I used to look at the flowers and tell my husband it looks beautiful but now while watering the flowers and plants every day I appreciate the hard work of my husband so much more. When the President announced the lockdown, we realized we had to make sacrifices to protect ourselves and the people of our country during these uncertain times of our existence. Being at home and doing all the chores my husband always did, gave me so much appreciation for my husband for what he does around the house.  I never really saw the important role he is playing in our lives. I do miss him but I am thankful for the love in his heart for the  children of the children’s home, who are the most vulnerable of all. While doing essential services during the lockdown, I see the hunger of our people and I think there must be a reason why myself and my husband had to be away from each other. I know we will be drawn closer together by this. Even in these uncertain times, it gave me time to reflect on my own life and remove whatever is in my heart that is not of benefit for me.

While alone at home it gave me time to reflect on my life, and my bond with God became stronger than ever. We were busy way too much and we had to come to a stand-still and take a breath. This made us realize; the world is suffering and mourning together because we are on this earth for each other. One can sense the pain of people who lost their loved ones. May God heal the hearts of the people of this generation and bring the world closer together. My prayer for this Covid-19 is that God will give wisdom and knowledge to the people who are working on a cure for this virus which is running through the world like wild fire.

It feels like God called the whole world to silence. Whilst we imprisoned ourselves, nature doesn’t need us, instead we need nature.  May God bless our country and the whole world together. If there was ever a time that we need to stand together it is NOW.


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