COVID-19: Through the eyes of Enabel staff

Our colleagues working all over the world testify how they experience the changes in their daily lives since governments took covid-19 lockdown measures.

Kampala, the busy capital of Uganda feels very quiet without the usual numerous taxi buses and taxi scooters on its streets. 

Rose Athieno Kato - Uganda, Kampala

This lockdown has brought families closer together, because everyone really has to interact since we are all stuck in our houses together. So, it’s an opportunity to get to know each other even better. Not only families are connecting. Within my neighbourhood we created a Whatsapp support group, this helped create new friendships’

'I've connected with people in my neighbourhood through this lockdown.'

However I miss real interaction with my colleagues. Especially at first, this was an adjustment I had to make. But I made the best of it, and now I’m achieving as much as I would do in the office.

Beatrice Ecuru - Uganda, Kampala

I’m the Gender, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Support to Skilling Uganda Programme. Since the announcement of the lockdown due to COVID 19 pandemic by the Ugandan government, staff of Enabel in Uganda have been working from home. This both comes with challenges and advantages. 

I get a lot of disruption from the children who seek for guidance to complete their school assignments. They keep receiving assignments and online study materials to keep up with their school programs. On some occasions, they request to use my computer to research. Internet connectivity is still a challenge in Uganda. In several places it’s very erratic, yet it’s also expensive but luckily, office takes care of this bill.

'Now, I can start work fresh, without the fatigue that comes from driving through the ever-present traffic jams in Kampala.'

On the positive side, I start work at 8:00 am when I am still fresh without fatigue that comes from driving through the ever-present jams in Kampala. Previously on a normal work day, it takes me one and half hours to get to office. At home, I get to take walk breaks in the compound at 10am, 1pm and 4pm. When I still have work to do, I simply continue even up to 7pm without worrying about jam or what time to get back home. The cost of buying fuel is also cut off and our environment is fresher and more peaceful.

Kampala streets - For now, traffic jams have disappeared.

Ambroise Atusasire – Uganda, Hoima

It’s strange that we can no longer shake hands to greet one another, it’s really a culture shock for us. But people are trying to remind each other that it is important to respect the social distancing guidelines. There is a lot of solidarity in this, we are in this together.

'I really appreciate the quietness that comes with the lock down, I now sleep better at night.'

Another positive thing that I’m appreciating is the quietness, especially in the evenings. Clubs and bars are no longer blasting loud music. This really has calmed things down and we now really appreciate our sleep more.

I stay in touch with our project partners by calling them regularly and they brief me on the progress that they are making on their side. In this way, at least we can all continue with our work.

In Kigali everyone stays indoors.

Jack Tutuba - Rwanda, Kigali

Since the 21st of March the Rwandan government ordered a lock down to prevent the spreading of the corona virus. Enabel collaborator Jack Tutuba lives in Kigali and explains what it's like to live in the city at the moment.

'In Kigali, everyone is confined in his or her home.'
Empty bus station in Kigali.

Working from home is challenging, but it is also doable. I have to set daily goals and I can stay connected with my colleagues through the internet and regular phone calls.

I believe that every crisis also provides an opportunity. People are really coming together and working together to combat this crisis

The streets of Bethlehem are empty.

Ahed Jarayseh - Palestine, Bethlehem

As the days pass, I see myself getting closer to my kids. I am now more involved in their lives and daily routine. We have discovered several ways to take advantage of this time together.

My son Jude is playing is a game that I bought for myself 20 years ago. It’s been hidden for so long and I had completely forgotten about it. When the lock down started in Bethlehem, I looked for ideas to spend time with my kids and I remembered having this board game. My 6-year-old son and I have reconnected during this period and he is always excited and anxious to play with me. This board game has brought back so many childhood memories of family and friends.

'As the days pass, I see myself getting closer to my kids.'

This picture of the empty street reminds me of my childhood during the Israeli curfews. As kids, we used to run away from Israeli soldiers, whistle to inform others whenever we spot army vehicles passing by and play on the streets whenever the curfew is lifted for a few hours. This time, it is different. Streets are empty because we are advised to stay home so we can prevent the outbreak of COVID-19.

'This reminds me of my childhood during Israeli curfews. As kids, we used to run away from Israeli soldiers, whistle to inform others whenever we spot army vehicles passing by and play on the streets whenever the curfew was lifted for a few hours. Now, it's different. Streets are empty because we are advised to stay home so we can prevent the outbreak of COVID-19.'

Mazen Masoud - Palestine, West Bank

I would have never believed it if someone told me weeks ago that this was coming. That people would not be able to leave their homes, that going to buy groceries would become a challenge, or meeting with others would be risky.

A few days before the government’s official announcement of the emergency plan and full lockdown in Palestine, I moved to my hometown in Nablus to stay with my mother. I never had the chance to stay for such long period since I left the town and moved to Ramallah in 2003. The city center of Nablus is now deserted during the lockdown. It is always overcrowded during the normal days.

'Through the current pandemic, I realised how important it is to be able to utilise local resources.'

I took advantage of my time in quarantine to take care of the home garden which includes different types of trees and greenery. Gardening was a tradition in the Palestinian society. It started to rapidly vanish due to new emerging life styles, increment of land values and other factors. Through the current pandemic, we quickly realised how being able to utilise local resources is important.

People are worried about the current situation but I believe that afterwards, our outlook on life will be more positive, focusing more on natural and human resources, re-discover our areas’ competitive advantages, be more thankful, improve our lifestyles and make an effort to develop our local economy.

Haneen Abu Nahla - Palestine, Gaza

'This situation brings back painful memories from the 2014 war in Gaza.'

Nothing has changed in our lives in Gaza. Everything remains as it is during COVID-19. We are still living under restricted siege and are forbidden from traveling. This situation has brought back painful memories from the 2014 war in Gaza. We are sitting in our homes with restriction in movement just like back in those days. The only difference between that period and now, is that we used to fear being killed by missiles, whereas now, we fear a COVID-19 infection and the loss of our lives due to the virus.

My son Ali said to me yesterday: “Mom, I hate the Coronavirus war and I hope that it ends soon so we can return to our normal lives”. The strange thing is that for Ali a normal life, is still a restricted life. He was born after the travel ban for people living in Gaza was imposed. During his whole life, he has never been able to leave Gaza.

Laura Taminu - Jordan

'I feel grateful for the “luxuries” we otherwise take for granted.'

Starting with an entire new team virtually is a challenge but it worked out really well so far and I think the unique situation also boosts the team spirit because we are all proud that we are making it work anyhow.

I think staying in Jordan at the moment is very interesting and I'm really proud of how the country has dealt with the situation so far. They seem to actually contain the situation and I fully support the government in its efforts. They haven’t received enough credit for it yet. The situation does give me worries and anxiousness about the future.

This experience had an impact on my outlook on life. It makes me feel grateful for the “luxuries” we otherwise take for granted. It confirms for me that humans are naturally social beings. The solidarity it brings about all over the world is not covered by the media to the extent that unhappy/negative incidents are covered, yet I believe it brings forward our natural social instincts and brings us people “closer”.

Oday Al Jabari - Palestine

'I'm trying to radiate optimism to my family and colleagues.'

We are increasingly using technology to continue our job and stay in touch with partners and beneficiaries. This pandemic obliged us to adopt new plans and methods, and to accept changes in partners’ activity plans to meet arising needs.

Personally, I am ensuring food security by planting vegetables in my garden and caring for my hens. I also act as a substitute teacher for my children and help out around the house with cleaning and cooking. Most importantly, I am trying to keep healthy and to be optimistic and to radiate optimism with my family and colleagues.

Olivier Donnet - Palestine

Roula Handal - Palestine, Bethlehem

'While in confinement, I rediscovered my passion for baking'

Bethlehem was the first and hardest hit area in Palestine by COVID-19, and the streets of Bethlehem have been deserted since the lock down was announced on the 6th of March to contain the virus.

But, because of being in confinement, I also became reacquainted with my passion for baking. I have been making bread, cakes and pastries all around the clock. Additionally, I’ve become the junior distiller at my husband’s distillery. It’s been an interesting process learning about the science and art of distillery.