From the closure of schools to the increase in violence and poverty, millions of children worldwide have been affected by the direct and indirect effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Girls and young women might be among the most vulnerable due to inequality and discrimination, as was exposed by Mwanaid, a 14 years-old girl from Tanzania, during a virtual dialogue between children from her country and from Bosnia & Herzegovina, held on Saturday, August 21.
“During the pandemic things have been harder for girls as they are doing more work at home than boys. While the boys are sent out to play, the girls are asked to wash the dishes or clean the house” explained Mwanaid during the session organized for children to reflect on the impacts of Covid-19. She also pointed out that many girls are being exposed to child labor, and other forms of exploitation, as their families, have been plunged into poverty due to the pandemic.
Emira, e 15 years old from Bosnia & Herzegovina also mentioned how violence against children has increased during this time. “Some children are victims of abuse at home, if they cannot go to school they cannot report if they have problems at their homes”.
Before engaging in a dialogue, the children from the two countries had the opportunity to have a virtual tour through the 3D exhibition Faith in Action for Children launched by Arigatou International in November 2020. This online space collects articles, paintings, and multimedia pieces produced by more than 150 children from around the world, sharing their thoughts and feelings about the pandemic and how it has impacted their lives.
The participants reflected on how similar their experiences are. As it was put by Amina, a 15 years-old girl from Bosnia & Herzegovina, despite being in different regions of the world all children have similar feelings and concerns about the pandemic. “We all want a normal life again,” she said and added that all children are eager to return to in-person classes. “It is easier to forget what we’ve learned online than when we learn it face-to-face”.
Imani, 14 years old from Tanzania, reported the same “we lose a lot of time with online classes” and Sajra, 10 years old from Bosnia & Herzegovina, also added that having to study this way is very stressful for children. “And other children give up in continuing going to school”, mentioned Lulu, a 16 years-old girl from Tanzania.
This dialogue was part of the monthly sessions that Arigatou International has been organizing during 2021 to foster interfaith and intercultural sensitivity among children from different cultures, religions, and ethnic backgrounds by sharing their views and experiences during the pandemic.
The session involved around 15 children, and it would not have been possible without the coordination and support of GNRC members in the two countries. Our special thanks to Zvonimora Jakic and Ismeta Begic in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and to Joyce Mdachi, Venance Temu in Tanzania for all the support and assistance provided to children to be able to join the online session.