Local skate-aid volunteer Patience about his lockdown in Rwanda

22nd March 2020 a lockdown was imposed here in Kigali. We didn’t know how long it was going to take, but in the end it lasted 44 days. Day one seemed really strange as foreign friends and workmates were stressed to catch the last flights. It felt like a random break up of a great relationship. The first week of the lockdown was fully filled with creativity. Sometimes, I used to play indoors board games, juggling, balancing with the skateboard on a bottle of water. The next weeks started to become more intense as the government began to apply stricter measures like no movements out of home except to buy groceries or visit the doctor. Since some people violated the forbidden unnecessary movements, the police began to patrol the streets while the drones did so in the air with megaphones and cameras monitoring the whole city. This situation was frightening. The news and social media were the source of updates where we could see how people are going out to help others, especially sharing food. Also, some people just went out to sell stuff on the streets even when it was not allowed. Basically, people were starving. In my neighbourhood, I saw people trying so hard to earn a living that it made me sad. I knew it was a tough time for some people, who earn on a daily basis just enough for the day. Therefore, a day of no work for them means starving for a day. In my neighbourhood this includes 70 percent of youths and their families as well.  So people went hungry with no options. I cannot forget when I walked to the grocery store and I past street kids who have greatly suffered from the situation because they cannot survive on begging anymore. There was nobody in the streets to beg because everything was closed. They were laying in corners hungry all the days and checking garbage to see if anybody dropped any foods. Days went by with a repeatedly week extensions in hopes of ending the lockdown but it was too soon as numbers of new infected victims increased. We gave up on worrying and I personally focussed on finding the beauty in the broken, I like to say, looking on the bright side.  I took advantage of the situation and led my brain to learn new things like languages because I love it. So I kept it up, motivation would constantly go low and I suddenly got up. I got couple of people texting on a daily basis with motivation exchange and this was a big lesson. We can always be there for each other no matter the distance. Friends were in touch and the kids from the skate park were texting me daily on Facebook and we figured out a way to still keep our connection. Even when we didn’t know how long the lockdown was going to last, we still strongly believed it would end just as any other situations. Most of the businesses were closed, only banks and hospitals plus food supplies were allowed. So basically people were just using up their credit without earning any money and thus a lot of families were going hungry. However, as the saying says, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The situation got better and better slowly with patience and hope until 4th of May. This day was exactly 44 days after being fulltime indoors when the government reports came out and allowed more movements and more businesses have opened, the city feels alive again. We might still be walking wearing masks but for sure, the sun is bright again and it feels we are just in the beginning of the new era after the Covid 19 Pandemic.