Lucy On The Front Lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Lucy On The Front Lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by Lucy, HHFL’s Program Manager

2020 started like any other year with so much anticipation. All the kids had gone back to school and all was well!

We had started preparing for our usual program for April holiday and BOOM! COVID-19 arrived and we went into lockdown for 21 days and schools closed overnight to help curb the spread.

It was something that I had never experienced before in my life and it came as a shock. I had no idea what to do and how to handle all the HHFL kids around. Luckily, Mama Hanne was just a phone call away but it was still challenging because she couldn’t be on the ground in the slum with me.

We were forced to close the project temporarily and kids went back to live with their guardians or relatives. Many went to the countryside. This was something strange to them because most HHFL kids think of our project as their home.

I had to be the eyes and ears of our founder, Hanne, so I had to be alert all the time. The pressure to keep everyone safe was really high. Isaiah and I implemented a system that benefited all the kids, even if they were far away. We got some help from the teachers too.

Alexandra helped initiate calls for emergency donations and it saved us.  We tried our best to ensure everyone was well taken care of but I was always feeling stressed as there was never a moment’s peace.

For example, one of our girls, Philomena, was in a bad corner with her landlord threatening to evict her with her mum and two kids. We stepped in to help pay her rent.

Faith also became very ill. We suspected COVID-19 and treated it with a high degree of seriousness in an isolation room that we rented.  I worked together with Mama Hanne from a distance and she guided me on how to handle every situation.

Faith was also on the verge of being evicted but thanks to the emergency funds we were able to pay her rent and food. We can proudly say that we took care of her until she secured herself with a well paying job this summer. 

Gabriel was also one of HHFL’s Alumni who was on the verge of being evicted with his mum. We paid their rent and now Gabriel is working again.  We are still keeping a close watch on all the children including our alumni because a number of them were laid off as some companies closed down.

The slum was not a safe place either because most of the people were left without jobs too so the crime rate and violence was extremely high.

On top of taking care of the HHFL kids and families, I had to keep close watch on my own situation and two children because I live in the slum.

I can recall many incidents including witnessing being beaten by police for being out past the curfew and being burned for petty thefts to help put food on the table. I can’t even describe how scary this is.

On one occasion, my neighbour was outside taking her clothes from the hanging line past the curfew and the police saw her. She ran in the house but the police came straight to her house and forced themselves inside. Alongside her kid, they were beaten and then rushed to hospital. They are OK now but it was truly terrifying to hear it happening beside my own home.

I became very ill myself during June/July with all the symptoms of COVID- 19. I had shortness of breath, a bad cough,  loss of taste and wheezing.  I went to the hospital and I was told I had pneumonia. Mama Hanne took good care of me and I went into isolation to recover. Cheryl, my friend was also checking in on me. I am blessed to have such caring people in my life.

So much has happened I can’t tell it all. But I thank God every day that we are strong, brave and adapting to the new normal.

I thank everyone for continuing to support our work

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