Monday October 19, 2020
Girls at Luq Primary School/ Mohamed Abdirashid/Ergo
Schools in Puntland and in other parts of Somalia reopened August and September following a relaxation of lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of Coronavirus. The return to education was widely welcomed. But with COVID19 cases creeping up again, many are sharing their concerns now over the lack of precautions in public places, including in schools. Zeytun, aged 18, a secondary school student in class two at a school in Garowe, called us on our feedback platform to raise her concerns. We called her back and interviewed her on 11 October. The following is a transcription of the interview that aired on Radio Ergo.
Zeytun: Ever since we reported back to school, I haven’t found anywhere to wash my hands. If you wear a facemask, or there is a student wearing a mask, people look surprised and think you are infected with Corona. The other issue is there is no handwashing facility. As for the seating arrangement in the class, we sit in groups with around five or four students sharing a single desk.
Ergo: What do you feel about these conditions?
Zeytun: I feel it’s a big challenge for me as the class is overcrowded and each desk is shared by five students and there is no handwashing facility, no masks or gloves provided, and I don’t wear any myself, so I have really felt scared.
Ergo: Have you talked to the teachers and the school administration about your fears and the need to do something about it?
Zeytun: No, I haven’t informed them. If I inform them, I know of course there is nothing they can do about it. But as there is surge in Corona and because the schools have reopened, they were at least expected to advise the students, ask them to wear facemasks and prepare hand washing items. Personally, I have not told them about this, and I haven’t managed to form a committee to help do mobilisation.
Ergo: Do your friends and those close to you also fear or is it just you?
Zeytun: No, we share the same feelings, many students are afraid, although many others ignore that the disease exists.
Ergo: If you wear a facemask, for instance, what challenges do you encounter?
Zeytun: I wore it for a few days, like a week, after my mother gave me one and some gloves. When you go to supermarkets or school wearing a facemask, people say this person is infected with Corona, I met lots of challenges indeed, and so I stopped using it.
Ergo: Why are you so afraid about Corona, what have you seen? Do you have friends who were killed by Corona or students who got infected?
Zeytun: Not really, but I normally see students in my class, some of whom we share the same desks with, getting a cold or having a sore throat, and it’s because of this experience that I became afraid. They also feel very tired but later they won’t inform anyone about their sickness and they still attend school.
Ergo: How did you learn about Corona, did you hear on the radio or from your parents? How did you get to know that Corona is this dangerous?
Zeytun: I got to know by watching TV at home and I also heard it on radio of course. My parents thankfully have constantly been advising me to be alert always.
Ergo: Apart from the students you suspect with symptoms, have you seen any student who was confirmed with Corona, or anyone who died of it?
Zeytun: Of course not! They won’t even go to get tested, they say if we go to