The coronavirus hit the world by surprise, and while it has had negative implications financially, emotionally, and physically, the four week lockdown that was put in place to control the virus, has been nothing close to a funfair. But while we endure the discomfort and pray that things get better quickly, there are valuable life lessons that have been drawn from this period.
Hilde Canoodt, a dancer, choreographer and yoga instructor, who made good use of the internet to continue with her work duties, says that this lockdown has taught her about gratitude, for all the simple things that she took for granted.
“Things like my job, financial security, my freedom, my friends and family, my health. Sometimes we don’t realise how blessed we are until it is taken from us through a crisis like the one the world is facing now.
“But I also have gratitude for what is still available during this lockdown. I have the privilege not to worry about being hungry, a privilege that many in this country don’t have. So even though the lockdown was sometimes a reason for many worries, it is important for me to express gratitude for the things I still have every day,” she says.
In this period when social distancing and isolation have become the ‘new normal’, one thing is sure to keep us through the tough times — memories.
For Claudine Mwangachuchu, a make-up artist in Kigali, the lockdown has taught her that whatever is constant in life can change, and that although there are ups and downs, we shouldn’t tie our happiness on material things.
“We really can’t know how life will revolve. We sometimes lose our loved ones or the things we value, like jobs and assets, but I also believe that life is still a beautiful journey and so I like to hold on hope that tomorrow will be better. When this is all over I want to meet my family and friends. And travel. I want to travel to a new destination and enjoy life.
“It’s also beautiful to see how people have a heart to help others. It’s like humanity is one, and on the same page. I think this is a moment when we all should reflect on many things and prioritise on what matters,” she says.
Having insufficient time, for most people, has long been our default excuse when we are unable to complete, or even begin, specific tasks. But even with the spare time that the pandemic has accorded many, there isn’t any sizable progress with self-improvement.
According to David Kizunzi, co-founder of My Green Home Project, people have the will but less passion for these activities, if they had the passion they would devote their time to it, regardless of whether the time is abundant.
“Lockdown taught me that I can manage my time if I want what I’m passionate about. Once this is all over, I look forward to going back to normal like brunch, and hanging out with friends and also, I want to go back to swimming and basically start on things I’ve always wanted to do but kept postponing,” he says.
If anything, this crisis has highlighted the importance of budgeting and cash flow management. Kizunzi shares that he also learned the importance of emergency funds and digital literacy, which were often taken for granted.
“When they announced the lock-down, I didn’t have enough money to shop groceries and essential items to last me for like three weeks, something I didn’t see coming. Also digital literacy is important since most of us turned our work to online platforms and some of us were just learning to be comfortable and conversant with digital tools and apps like Zoom and Google hangouts,” he says.
Family comes first
Parenthood in the time of the coronavirus lockdown has been demanding and emotional and for Chantal Muhoza, a marketing officer and mother of two. These past weeks have added a significant amount of domestic and emotional labour.
Nonetheless, nothing compares to the joy of spending time with her young ones and family.
“I had filled up my days being “busy” with emails and office work. My self-worth was tied in with my ability to be a supermom who works so hard to provide for her kids, and hadn’t even considered using this new-found time to find time for them.
“It’s amazing how we have dinners and play board games as a family. Once we are through with all this, when work resumes and school is back and the chaotic world that has been our lives picks back up, I don’t want to lose all of this precious time. I want to slow down. My mom side will take over and work will take the back seat,” she says.Follow https://twitter.com/SharonKMugabo