Spring 2020 in Africa. More precisely in Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world. Far away from the safari idyll, Maria John lives with her family in the southern Masasi district. Her father earns his money as a bush driver. Her mother is a small farmer and provides the family with corn and beans.

Corona is also raging in East Africa. Like everywhere else in the world. That is why one evening the government decides to lock down. However, Maria and her family are unaware of this. The power supply is – as so often – interrupted, the family cannot watch the news on TV.

The next morning, the 13-year-old gets up at half past five as usual and goes to school around seven o’clock. There she meets only a few young people. “What is going on here? Where are the others,” Maria asks. A teacher, who came to the school especially to inform the school children, finally explains to her: “Classes are suspended until further notice. Because of Corona!”

The schools are closed due to the corona virus. Maria stays at home. Together with her brother and two sisters, the children help their parents in the fields.

Alone at home

From this point on, Maria stays at home. With her brother and two sisters she supports her parents. And does her homework as best she can. If Maria is at a loss, she can ask her brother. He is two years older and fortunately also goes to school. That is anything but a matter of course. Primary school attendance is compulsory in Tanzania. But many families cannot afford to buy pens, notebooks and school uniforms.

Unlike in Switzerland, children do not have a laptop or computer. During the lockdown they are therefore completely on their own. A difficult time for Maria. She can neither communicate with friends nor with the teacher.

 

The dreams live on

The virus has left traces. The light-heartedness is gone. In church, at school, but also at markets Maria keeps her distance. And washing her hands has become a new normality for her. Added to this is the fear of an infection that is omnipresent. Nevertheless, Maria does not want to stop dreaming: “One day I want to become a pilot!”

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