By Grace Okoli-Emmanuel, Chineye Onyeagorom, Chika Igba, Favour Chioma Ikebuaka
The year 2020 began with zest and great expectations for many accomplishments. Many families had mapped out achievable goals on generating more wads of cash for their children. Suddenly, the announcement that plunged the world into a compulsory reset hit the airwaves. The coronavirus disease known as COVID-19 had sent the best of the best medical personnel running helter-skelter with no evident solution other than to lock the world down. The lockdown instruction on the 30th day in the month of March 2020 came with its many new experiences as well as challenges as the world began to realize that a new normal was about to be ushered into the lifestyle and careers of practically everyone concerned. Many parents realized that they had been left behind in the growth and development of their children in their pursuit of greener pastures.
According to the International Journal of Mental health nursing, the world experienced a spike in domestic violence due to several factors such as the stress caused by economic recession and increased exposure to exploitative relationships as well as reduced options for support (Peterman et al., 2020). There was a 5% increase in domestic violence in Australia according to Kagi 2020, 32%-36% increase in France according to the Reuters News Agency 2020, 21% to 35% in the United States according to Wagers 2020, while The National Domestic Abuse Hotline in the UK saw a 25% increase in calls since stay‐at‐home measures were implemented (Kelly & Morgan 2020), recording at least eight family violence‐related deaths (Knowles 2020). The full article can be found here.
These statistics show that the mental health of many adults in different countries deteriorated drastically, putting the children at risk and measures to correct this anomaly needed to be put in place to ensure safety and security for the victims, especially the children who were not exempt from the heat of the lockdown. Many children in the developing countries had to deal with issues arising from the loss of their parents’ jobs, living in the same environment as the infected parents, not being able to continue their education at home and being forced to deal with harsh realities when the lockdown was finally lifted.
Chidubem Ezite, an eleven-year-old Nigerian student in JSS1 lamented the impact of the lockdown on his education. He said: “The negative impact I hate about covid 19 is that when it happened, I missed school and the time to learn and to impact more knowledge in my life.” Ebele Ezite, a fifteen-year-old SS1 bemoaned her fate as the lockdown affected her graduation to a new class. “Covid 19 actually created a huge setback and barrier in my academics. It prevented me from moving to a new class. I had to repeat SS1,” she explained.
We could go on and on about the negative impact of the lockdown because it was like Pandora’s Box of doom; high rate of downsizing in organizations, increase in cyber-crimes, death rate due to hunger, economic regression, the fire brigade approach of lectures to students after the resumption and so on and so forth. Whereas it is easy to brood on the negative effects of the lockdown, nothing is absolutely bad or good. Also, there are certain positive experiences that arose from the COVID-19 lockdown.
It gave busy workaholic parents the opportunity to rest and bond with their families; the unity and cohesion of families were restored. There was reduced pollution such as air pollution, noise pollution as cars were parked, companies were shut down and people stayed indoors. It inspired the world to become creative and innovative in finding the new normal way of life. It levelled the ground for medical personnel around the world to come up with solutions and possible cure for the deadly virus.
It enabled online teaching programs on radios, televisions etc which were affordable and accessible from the comfort of various homes especially with the radio which reached out to the rural areas. Eloka Steven, a 300 level mass communication, stated that the covid lockdown gave him the time to enrol into online courses and learn different business strategies from which he currently makes a profit after the lockdown. The lockdown encouraged interdependence as private organizations came out en masse to provide food, medical supplies and financial aid for the poor.
Favour, a 100 level student of political science spoke on how the lockdown imparted her positively. She said: “The lockdown gave me the opportunity to venture into entrepreneurship, I had a lot of time to plan my life and explore my strengths. It was a blessing in disguise for me.” Chinua, a student of mechanical engineering talked about how the lockdown gave him time to reflect on his life. According to Chinua, “My relationship with my parents was strained but all thanks to the lockdown we had time to talk about it and reached a compromise on some things. Now I feel much fulfilled because our relationship grew stronger than it was.”
The lockdown has given the world time to reflect and realize what truly matters is not our wealth or jobs but our relationship with others. The COVID-19 lockdown encouraged personal hygiene such as the washing of hands, using hand sanitisers which were made mandatory as it was no longer just a good habit but needed for survival according to the BMJ. You can study this more here.
The lockdown inspired the citizenry to explore agriculture on a much deeper level. Families living in compounds with arable land began cultivating different food crops in order to curb the rate of hunger ravaging homes. Chizoba Emecheta, a resident in Awka South stated thus, “This lockdown challenged me to make use of the free space in the compound to plant fluted pumpkin, cassava and corn. At least, now I don’t need to spend so much money on foodstuff. The way things are going, things will be very expensive in the market, so I have to get a plan B.”
The lockdown also caused families to experiment with and adopt new preservative measures of storing food. Fresh vegetables were desiccated, dry foodstuff was ground into powder and stored up while other foodstuffs were purchased in large quantities and stashed away for future use. The impending famine was a wake-up call according to Ebere Imelda, a hairstylist living in Awka. She described measures her family had taken as necessary to survive the wave of hunger that swept across the nations.
We can deduce from these events that a shift has happened to the world, one which we may never recover from because the new normal has obviously come to stay with us. What we can do as individuals and organizations is to adjust, adapt and press forward toward making our world a safe place for all to live and work freely especially now that there’s hope for a full return to economic advancement since the invention of the COVID-19 vaccine. We believe that the new world birthed after the lockdown will experience unprecedented growth in human capital development as well as innovations to meet new challenges as they arise.
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