Lessons in lockdown: Soaring beyond my wildest dreams

Lessons in lockdown: Soaring beyond my wildest dreams

Date: January 13, 2021
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By Manteboheleng Mabetha

Maseru, January 2021: At the beginning of 2020 I had a strong feeling that I would achieve great things. I felt that this would be the year of double blessings for me. Everything was going well in the first two months.   My team and I had raised sufficient funds for the whole year, compared to the previous year when we could not see our way to the end of the year. That gave me time to focus on implementation.

In March 2020 the Corona virus hit Southern Africa. Everything came to a standstill with lockdowns announced in many countries. Lesotho joined despite there being no reported cases of COVID-19 at that time. We all went into hiding and we had to work from home.  I panicked whether all the donor deliverables would be met, and if not the implications of this for future funding. I started feeling scared and I wondered how my family would survive if I lost my job. Every day became so heavy as some donors demanded that we demonstrate delivery to get paid.

I was also not coping with the demands of working from home which included cooking and cleaning for my family as I had to release my helper. I found the working spot in my bedroom; the only place I could work in peace away from the children. To avoid stress I focused on what makes me happy like dancing while I prepared a meal in the kitchen for my family. At one point I even took a video and shared it with my colleagues on the WhatsApp group and that eventually made the whole group want to do a virtual dance on the birthday of one of our colleagues with me being a DJ and lead dancer. During this time we valued the laughter and being kind to one another. I looked forward to the morning check-ins with my manager. This helped me to share my frustrations so that I could be strong for my children.

I learned that “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light,” (Aristotle). After two weeks of despair and hopelessness I focused on seeing the light. I  found  new ways of  ensuring that all the donor deliverables are met. Gender based violence (GBV) cases were on the rise as a result of the lockdown. Women could not move because of the restrictions. I ventured into finding out how I could assist the women to report cases without having to travel.  With the support from UNFPA, I worked on establishing the toll-free number. The toll-free number has been one of the missing links in the reporting of GBV cases in Lesotho. I felt happy to have contributed in making that change.

I also worked to create awareness on COVID-19 amongst the rural communities who do not usually get the chance to watch televisions or even listen to radios. I fought the fear of leaving the house to go to the communities by thinking of all those front line workers who leave their houses every day to save our lives. I put myself in their shoes and prayed to God to protect me and my children. A lot of people instilled fear in me by pointing out all the risks associated with going out to the villages. I remember when I got to Quthing, one of the districts where illegal border crossing was rampant, I could literally smell the COVID-19  in the air!

Ironically in all my 20 years of working I got to know my country best in the time of corona. The awareness campaigns reached the furthest, “left behind” places. Sometimes we could get out of our vehicles and walk on foot or on horseback for hours. For once in my life I felt I was really making a difference to people who needed it the most. The people living in these villages had not information whatsoever about COVID-19. They carried on as usual, welcoming home family e returning from South Africa, the SADC country worst affected by the pandemic.. As we moved around we distributed much-needed face masks to make sure that people protect themselves.  We also introduced them to the toll-free number to report GBV.

As I reflect I am so happy that I took a leap of faith and went out to help others and possibly save lives. By the time the government lifted lockdown restrictions I knew how to work during the pandemic, including all the safety protocols. At the end of every month when I looked at the monthly reports I felt happy because Lesotho office met all its 2020 targets and surpassed 2019 figures for number of events and people reached. In 2020 I found inner peace. I learned to love unconditionally and live each day as if it were my last. In life you can never receive what you do not give. I learned the joy of giving.  As a result of giving love I received love unconditionally from God and my fellow human beings. I soared beyond my wildest dreams both at work and in my personal life.

Indeed, I achieved the double blessing that I had envisioned at the start of the year. I may even have contracted COVID- 19 at some point during that year as I had flu and was never tested. I am grateful that I recovered and face 2021 with hope and fortitude.

(Manteboheleng Mabetha is Local Action for Gender Justice Lesotho Manager)

One thought on “Lessons in lockdown: Soaring beyond my wildest dreams”

Colleen says:

An inspiring story! Thanks Sis

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