Welcome to our global #FarFromHome series: reflections on the time of Covid-19 from people who are are far from their family and home-country. We hope this brings comfort and reassurance. We chat to Onacisse, who lives in South Africa and is from DRC.
What has guided you through this time? I started reading books and watched a lot of documentaries. This helped me clear my mind and not to think of the pandemic.
Has anything brought you hope or inspiration in this time? I was inspired by doctors and nurses who sacrificed their own lives to save those with Covid-19.
What other emotions has this time brought out for you? I felt helpless because there was nothing much that I could do to help those who needed help, because I needed help too. This brought fear to me, because the number of positive cases kept on increasing. I kept on thinking what if this continues? Will I ever see my family or not?
What in your life history has made you better able to deal with this situation? When I was coming to South Africa, I had gone through the toughest roads so that I could make it here. From the day I arrived in South Africa nothing was easy for me or my family. We have been through a lot of ups and downs, but we always overcome it.
What characteristics of yourself have you relied on to get through this tough time? I am disciplined. Without discipline I do not know where I would be or how I was going to cope with the stresses of not earning an income for almost six months. With no help from the government I had to discipline myself even more. I can now go and work, things are not that bad as they were 5 months ago. Life is slowly going back to normal.
Has this experience changed your interaction with your neighbours or community? Yes, it has changed a lot. It is weird how I have to wear a mask every time I speak to my neighbour. I no longer shake hands or hug my friends. I cannot go to gym or go for a walk at the mall freely, because I struggle breathing when wearing a mask for more than 30 min. Life has changed in general, before Covid-19 when someone sneezed people use to say “bless you”, now days they look at you as if you committed a crime, which is funny and sad at the same.
What would be your advice to those people facing difficult situations at this time? The only advice I would give to people going through a rough time is try as much to stay positive, because mental health is very important in times like this. The whole world is going through a big crisis and things keep on getting worse each and every single day. Try as much to stay positive Covid-19 is like a storm that came to destroy a lot of plans and things, but it’s going to pass.
Is there any other message you would like to send to other people who are living far from their original birthplace during this time? To those living far away from their home country like myself, I communicate with relatives and friends on daily basis I encourage you to do the same. It helps a lot! Thanks to advanced technology which enables us to communicate easily. Check up on family and friends, and appreciate them each every day, it reduces stress especially during this tough time. I hope and believe that one day we will rejoice with our loved ones, because Coronavirus is not going to stay forever. And after this pandemic life is going to change for the better.