Jasmin and Hortense from DRC, and Yagub from Sudan reflect on the role of being able to speak English in their country of asylum. The discussants share their own motivations in learning English as well their achievements in after learning the host country languages, especially during the lockdown. Worth noting is book writing project undertaken by Yagub, the music and video clips that campaigned for the adherence to SOPs in the fight against COVID-19 made by Rendezvous group members. Additional benefits include better integration with host communities. As Yagub remarked, “Any language you learn in the country of asylum can help you get friendships with the local community and also get their culture” The discussion specifically highlights how knowing some languages spoken by the host communities relatively lessened the effects of the pandemic. Discussants also tackled some of the reasons why many refugees have not embraced learning English even when they know they need it, including ignorance of the availability of learning centres, affordability (where cost applies), competing demands (for example parents fending for their dependants), hopes for imminent resettlement. The trio also suggested that more English centres be built and more refugee English tutors be employed to encourage their fellow refugees. Your browser does not support the audio element.
Christian and Cynthia from Democratic Republic of Congo, and Flixon, Burundian, discuss the varied impacts of the lockdown. Cynthia talks about the many girls whom she believes begin prostitution in order to ‘get what they want’, the consumption of pornography, and the risk of discontinued education for girls due to the pandemic, and the ways in which teachers used the pandemic as an excuse to begin unwanted sexual harassment. Flixon, himself a teacher, describes the gradual escalation of tensions within and between households as a result of the lockdown. He decries the mental health effects the pandemic has caused the youth and effects on family relationships as well as moral breakdown in the society because of idleness and poverty exacerbated by the pandemic. Christian describes how when his business collapsed, he was able to learn a number of new skills, including scriptwriting and photography. Cynthia equally developed her skills in arts and craft and graphics as well as taking the opportunity of being at home to deepen her relationship with her mother. They offer important advice to the youth, including learning how to save for tough seasons such this. Your browser does not support the audio element.
Corine and Evelyne from DRC and Burundi respectively share the multiple challenges for refugees who do not speak English, Luganda or Runyankole in understanding the different COVID-19 messages shared by the Ministry of Health and other relevant authorities during the lockdown. These include the fundamental gap in media such as radio and newspapers, none of which use common refugee languages. They also include the time-lag between announcements and subsequent translation and interpretation, and the loss of information when it is passed by word of mouth and interpreted by fellow refugees who have themselves not followed 100% of the original presentation. All of these can increase vulnerabilities and poor or non-compliance to measures/SOPs aimed at fighting COVID-19. In their discussion the youth suggest some recommendations on helping refugees easily and quickly access information during moments like this, particularly the use of Facebook for posting urgent information. Your browser does not support the audio element.
JB Mushamuka, a refugee from DRC discusses the different challenges he faced during the first days of the (total) lockdown including loss of employment, lack of basic needs, the emotional distress this had on him and the frustrations for the lack of support in period of dire need. While recognising that COVID-19 has compounded earlier traumatic experiences, he also shares how having gone through war experience helped him deal with the effects of the pandemic and lockdown. He encourages other youth to keep it positive, how to understand their parents, and advises them to look for available opportunities, market their skills, and engage in productive activities as a way of coping with the situation. Your browser does not support the audio element.
Rendezvous Youth Group in collaboration with Refugee Law Project brings you the experiences of refugee children on COVID-19 and their perspectives on the COVID-19 guidelines. It is our hope that you will be inspired by the voices of children talking about not only their downsides of the pandemic but also positive experiences with their families, lessons they have learnt, how they have kept safe and influenced others to keep safe. Your browser does not support the audio element.