Diary Page: Hope in times of COVID-19

During troubled times, moments of hope can be important. This week we asked our diarists: Has there been a particular moment or experience that gave you hope during the lockdown? For some diarists, the interventions by government such as the lockdown itself, expansion and increase of social grants, provision of water, food and shelter, and the recent approval of a drug to treat severe cases of COVID 19 were a sources of hope. Others derived hope from community initiatives, such as Community Action Networks (CANs) that facilitated the distribution of food and other necessities. Recoveries from COVID 19 and community resilience were also reasons to be hopeful for some. However, the government’s shortcomings were a major source of despair for others. These diarists found the lockdown to have been poorly managed, leaving them feeling hopeless.

Government interventions

Several diarists, such as Samkelo in Imizamo Yethu derived hope from seeing that ‘our authorities are doing whatever they can to save lives like lock-down. Money they gave to the public and guidance towards saving lives…gave me hope that we will eventually prevail’. In enforcing a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus the government was seen as being led by science.  

‘What gave me hope was how the health minister was pushing to check if everything is in order for me he showed true leadership in the time of need. He used is academic knowledge to advice the President and all the efforts his made…’ Ayanda, Khayelitsha

Curbing the spread through a strict lockdown

The government was seen as demonstrating care for our diarists and their communities when it enforced a strict lockdown, thus giving them hope in managing the spread of the virus.

‘There was a moment of hope When the Army moved in to enforce the Covid 19 regulation in our community, but then there was no difference as they just pass thru the streets and left, every time they visit the area. They didn’t stay long enough to make sure people obey’. Phillip, Hangberg  

‘Yes the moment of police patrolling in our areas to protect us in thugs n making sure that everyone is following all precaution are followed by everyone n when the level is moving forward to change status of other things to b changed’. Nolwando, Europe (Delft)

In some instances, the lockdown was seen to have had a positive impact on social behaviours that were undesirable to some diarists.

‘…this lockdown has made a lot of people in this area quit drinking which is a good thing…To prevent trouble and to become a better person’. Naeema, Houtbay 

‘Yes there is a moment where I could see that a lockdown brought hope ,when there were no alcohol, there were no accident, it was quiet on the street during the night, there were no horrible screams, sound of guns, but after allowing alcohol we are back to square one, no monitoring’. Nozuko, Siyahlala 

Social grants and food parcels

Other diarists felt hopeful when the government established an unemployment grant, increased existing ones and distributed food to the poor.

‘…the government announced that it will be giving out food parcels for the people so I was very relieved… And when the government announced that is giving out unemployment grant, so that was hope to me, it showed that we are not alone in this fight the government is with us all the way’.  Nathi, Imizamo Yethu.

‘When grant was increased many people that didn’t get food parcel were happy that they can still somehow provide food for their families. I know that my cousins and grandmother were some of those people it brought hope’. Assie, Khayelitsha

Improved service delivery

Once the government made the decision to implement the COVID-19 lockdown, it became apparent that observing it would be difficult for those without access to water, shelter and income. The government was forced to provide services for such areas. This gave hope to some of our diarists.

‘The moment tht gave us hope especially in my area was tht we had no water at all in our informal settlement but because  of lockdown City of Cape Town made it happen nd put Jojo tanks, so we still have hope tht we might have access in lot of things like toilets during this process of Covid-19’. Nonceba, Khayelitsha. 

‘…there were people who lives in shacks for many yes but now government is preparing for them because of this covid 19. Nolusapho, Khayelitsha

Easing of lockdown restrictions

The government’s decision to ease the lockdown restrictions gave some of our diarists hope as it gave a sense of some progress in the fight against the pandemic and lessening the negative impacts a strict lockdown.  

‘…when they lifted a few restrictions I did get a little hope especially when they took us to a lower level that we’re currently on now’. Ash, Delft  

‘The only experience that gave me hope during lockdown was the opening of Government Institutions, I’m glad I was able to go and register my new born child as I was worried when everything was shut down’. Kungo, Shukushukuma 

‘Seeing so many people go back to work and those of us who have access to online learning, this had given me hope for what’s to come as a society’. Nicole, Lavender Hill

 Treatment for severe cases

A few of our diarists cited the country’s recent approval of a drug to treat severe cases of COVID 19 as giving them hope. Assie, in Khayelitsha, captures that sentiment when she writes, ‘For me it was when the president announced that there is a drug that South Africa has that helps people that are on ventilator to become better’.

Family and community support

For some diarists the lockdown made it possible to spend more time with family and encouraged community members to actively support one another.

‘Community and family gave me lots of hope. It was almost as if we were all stripped of the layers of stuff and busyness and people were able to be people again. People caring, helping and supporting each other across all barriers and wake of life. I think that was very special. The gift of giving unconditionally has been rejuvenated!!!’ Melody, Newlands

Assistance with food

Food parcels distributed by non-governmental organisations and individuals to those in need also gave hope to some of our diarists.

‘A neighbour from my area dropped some essentials and food parcels to my family and I’m assuming other families in need as well. And during Ramadan another neighbour would take soup around to families who couldn’t afford to eat because of the lockdown’. Riyaaz, Primrose Park 

‘What gave me hope was the registered organizations, churches, mosque and businesses. We put all our differences aside and assisted the community with what we could. To see the faces of the benificiaries that received food relief and was fed gave me hope’. Warren, Hangberg

COVID 19 Recoveries

Recoveries from COVID 19 and community resilience were also sources of hope for our diarists.

‘…people who have recovered from covid 19 give me hope that we can and will overcome this pandemic’.  Bonga, Khayelitsha.

‘…there have been moments of hope, when I was diagnosed with the virus but quickly got healed which showed me that more can have healing…’  Sivuyile, Khayelitsha.

…and resilience

‘What gave me hope the most is how people stayed strong and try all means to minimize the spread of the virus…’ Siphenathi, Khayelitsha

No hope

For some diarists the lockdown period has been hopeless, and shows no end in sight like ‘a movie being played in slow motion and there is no plot with twists and turns and any excitement’, writes Sparrow, in Newlands. Diarists who share this view cite many reasons for their despair.

Government’s failure to fully implement the lockdown…

 ‘I have more worries than hope because we are moving forward with our lives without properly dealing with this Pandemic, almost everything is open and taxi unions are defying lockdown regulations’. Esethu, Khayelitsha 

Corruption surrounding food parcels…

‘There is so much doom and gloom, and listening to the news is plain depressing.  Hearing about how food parcels are being mismanaged and handed to family, friends or people with the same political agenda is yet another example of the ongoing corruption in this country, but now at an even more distressing level. Food parcels for the most desperately in need?!?!’  Judy, Newlands 

…and death of community members from COVID 19

‘I don’t have hope in this lockdown because we have lost 3 community members …due to Covid 19’. Luyolo, Khaylitsha

Unemployment and evictions were of serious concern to Andile, in Khayelitsha. He writes,

‘My only hope was during this time of lockdown the government would start decreasing an unemployment rate…now that we’re on lockdown it looks like it’s getting tougher and people recently city of cape town demolished some sharks in Makhaza were they chased out a guy while he was bathing’.   

Questions  

Will the service delivery improvements last long enough to improve the lives of those who benefitted?  

What lessons can the government learn from the lockdown?

What interventions should the government implement to retain hope in the context of the rising numbers of COVID-19 infections and economic challenges?

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