“Don’t forget to wear a mask as you leave the house.” This is a daily reminder to a majority of children and youth as they are sent on errands or as they undertake outdoor activities. In a world that is constantly changing, this year stands out in a lot of ways. Being an African child residing in Kenya now means staying at home, maintaining social distance from peers and observing strict health safety measures. Therefore, this year we are celebrating the Day of the African Child from the comfort of our homes.
In the beginning of the pandemic, staying at home was a luxury for a lot of children. It seemed to be a good break from their busy schedules of pursuing education. However, as month after month go by, a new routine sets in – house chores, errands and having online classes to keep up with school. Although homes are providing physical safety to a lot of children and youth, their mental health is raising a lot of concern. As parents and guardians are trying to make a living in an economy that is deteriorating by the hour, the stress they experience now directly affects their children. Also, being online is affecting a lot of children as they are vulnerable to cyber-bullying and uncensored content. Not to mention the feeling of being stuck in the same environment and toxic interactions with family and peers.
On the bright side, children and youth are able to spend more time with their loved ones, which is a necessity for their growth. With the health safety guidelines, they are learning the importance of high standards of sanitation. Perhaps the world will be a better, cleaner place after the pandemic since its future leaders are being sensitised on constantly sanitising. With a lot of time in their hands, children have an opportunity to learn new skills, discover their talents as well as cement their relationships with their families.