I’s been three months since the coronavirus pandemic was announced. Billions of children’s lives have been turned upside down and never before have so many children been forced out of school.
To capture their experiences, Save the Children invited 15 children from 15 countries to write a poem about life under lockdown, sharing their hopes, fears, and how the pandemic has changed their lives.
From the United States, Italy, Peru, and Colombia to Gaza, Yemen, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, their poems bring to life the experiences of children living through this pandemic. Despite their differences, their struggles are shared and they remain united in their hope for a brighter future.
Maya*, 14, from Za’atari refugee camp, Jordan
“Where’s the school? Where are the classes?
And my friends, and the teacher asking us about our homework.
Empty and sad streets.
And the playgrounds are as if they’re asking about us.
Corona, tomorrow you will see.
Our dreams, our awareness and our will, shall bring us victory over you.”
Gradi, 14, from the Democratic Republic of Congo
“We can call it a war, because this pandemic has wreaked havoc.
What scares me is that a family member, or myself, could catch the disease.
That is what scares me.”
Lincoln*, 11, from the United Kingdom
“When it is safe, I’ll hold my arms open wide,
and shout to the world we can all go outside!
Don’t give up hope the end is in sight,
if we all stick together, we’ll all win this fight!”
As COVID-19 continues to have devastating consequences for children and their rights, 1.6 billion1 children have been out of school during the pandemic and temporary closures have impacted over 90 percent of students worldwide. Never before have so many children been out of school at the same time. Recent joint analysis from Save the Children and UNICEF estimated the number of children living in household poverty could soar by up to 86 million by end of the year.
Following Save the Children surveys of over 6,000 children and parents globally, the agency has warned that children are at risk of experiencing lasting psychological distress from lockdown. Furthermore, almost one in four children living under COVID-19 lockdowns, social restrictions, and school closures, were found to be dealing with feelings of anxiety.
“These powerful poems show the enormous impact coronavirus has had on children’s lives, as well as their strength, resilience, and hopes for the future,” said Yolande Wright, Save the Children’s Director of Inclusion. “It is so important we listen to children directly during these unprecedented times—we are not all affected equally, and children can be particularly vulnerable.
“This is not just a health crisis, but a threat to children’s rights. Over 1.5 billion of the world’s children have been out of school for significant periods of time and millions are being driven into extreme poverty and face a very uncertain future. We’ve made huge progress in the last twenty years on children’s rights and COVID-19 risks reversing this progress.”
*Name has been changed