School closures as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic have impacted over 90% of students worldwide.
According to children’s rights organization Save the Children, a three-month period of significantly disrupted education results in devastating consequences for already vulnerable children and their families — especially in regards to education inequality and rates of poverty.
Now, children from all over the world — including Italy, Colombia, Gaza, Yemen, the United States, and South Sudan — have expressed their feelings about the pandemic and their subsequent disrupted education through poetry as part of a new initiative from Save the Children.
Archie Law, the humanitarian director at Save the Children Australia, told Global Citizen the “Childhood Under Lockdown” poetry initiative aims to show children that, despite their differences, their struggles and hopes for the future are shared.
"This project is about building resilience by allowing children to understand that their struggles are shared, that they are not alone and that other children are in a similar situation,” Law said. “It’s really important that we don’t just talk at and about children during this pandemic. We need to listen to them, we need to hear them, and we need to let them have their voices.”
Law added: “We also need to support children to hear from each other."
WATCH: This week marks three months since the #Coronavirus pandemic was announced. #Children form 15 countries have shared their experiences of life under #lockdown through poetry. #ProtectAGenerationpic.twitter.com/YCd303TMJR— Save the Children Middle East and Eastern Europe (@savechildrenmee) June 10, 2020
Zharick, 15, is supported by Save's 'Catatumbo Love Education' project in Ocaña. Image: Save the Children
When we are so close, from being so far away from those we love.
When love becomes a priority and only until yesterday, it was part of a further delay.
When giving you a kiss is what I want most, but I can't. I mustn't.
When I embrace you my soul cries out and only yesterday I had no time.
When going out for a walk in the park was the super plan and always an excuse.
And today, when I have no more time and no more excuses, I can only say goodbye.
So, please, I'm asking you to stay home.
Vilma lives in Quinatana Roo in Mexico. She attends a Save the Children 'Ludoteca' which is a space where children can learn and play safely in the afternoons while their parents are at work in the tourism sector. Image: Save the Children
Before the virus, I went to school, everything was happy.
Now I see people with face masks and few cars, but I am happier to have more time with my mom and I have more days to play.
I’m afraid that my family and friends will get sick.
I miss playing with my friends at school.
I miss visiting my grandparents at their house.
I dream about seeing my best friend and then us going to the beach.
While this [lockdown] happens, I draw pictures, I play and I do homework.
I hope that this ends so I can go back to seeing my friends.
When all this ends, I will go to the park to skate.
All this will pass, we will be fine, if we take care ourselves [and] wash our hands, the virus will die.
Stay at home so we can go out.
Aisha is a member of the Katsina State Children's Parliament, supported by Save the Children, which advocate on children's rights and issues affecting children and young people. Image: Save the Children
Excerpt of Aisha's poem:
Dear novel coronavirus, respecter of none, don’t ask me if I am fine because I am not fine.
You have forced me to stay in the four walls of this house.
Can’t you see I miss the jingle and jangle of school bells.
Mary* is part of Save the Children's Child Rights Club at her school. Save the Children supported her and her classmates in a training about child rights — helping them to identify their rights in order to demand them. Image: Save the Children
Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, look around the world.
Many people have died because of coronavirus. It is a really dangerous disease. It has no mercy.
It can kill a person in a minute.
Mariam* was critically injured by a missile strike in 2014 and shrapnel damaged her left ear. She’s fully recovered and wants to become a doctor to help children who’ve suffered like she has. Image: Save the Children
It is a virus that made the world like the city of the dead.
After we were playing with friends, the streets became empty.
We used to go to a school to gain knowledge with my classmates.
But now we are sitting in our homes on our own.
It is a virus that has deprived us from work and from the family's livelihood.
A virus that if it infects a person, it weakens his strength.
He would be deprived of seeing his family, loved ones and friends.
His immunity fades if he cannot fight it.
Ramadan came and we could not go to the mosques.
Ramadan that's full of generosity comes without us being able to go to the mosques.
We hope this pandemic will end and return to our lives.
We return to our school, mosque, and work and see our loved ones.
Eid will come and we will pray the Eid prayer in the mosque and see our loved ones.”
Fouad*, 17, is in Sana'a in Yemen, where he fled with his family after they had to leave their homes near conflict frontlines. Save the Children supported Fouad* and his family with clothes and food baskets. Image: Save the Children
It came to my mind, a saying that’s full of wonder, about what happened to time because of coronavirus.
For me, I swear, since an axe went in, it wandered and moved around; it gave the world a bunch of heart-wrenching lessons.
Worries increased for grown-ups and children, the pandemic increased and the worries made me bitter.
A fatal pandemic, has no mercy on its way it cuts bonds, blocks people’s closeness, not to go to them, so are they.
Maya*, 14, lives in Za’atari camp in Jordan with her mother and two brothers. Image: Save the Children
Stay at home, please. Today the whole world is in distress.
Everyone advises in horror and fear.
Wash your hands, sanitize yourself, don’t infect us.
No guests, no visitors. We are alone at home.
Corona stole our life.
Keep your distance, keep your distance and we did.
We became a few memories.
Whenever they pass our imagination we smile.
Where’s the school? Where are the classes?
And my friends, and the teacher asking us about our homework?
Empty and sad streets.
And the playgrounds are as if they’re asking about us.
Corona, tomorrow you will see.
Our dreams, our awareness and our will bring us victory over you.
Lincoln has been involved in various school and community initiatives, supported by Save the Children, which strengthen links between families, teachers, other professionals and community groups. Image: Save the Children
Life was always fast-paced, we never slowed down,
until everything stopped when Corona came to town,
now all is quiet and there’s peace all around,
we’ve looked in our hearts and kindness we’ve found.
We learn now with mum, this is a new feature,
but we can’t wait to get back to our teacher.
I miss Sea Cadets, school, my friends, and my dad,
I miss sharing the fun times and that makes me sad.
We’ve had social distancing picnics, social distancing walks,
social distancing hugs, and social distancing talks.
I’m looking forward to getting away,
the beach, the hotel, and a perfect holiday.
When it is? I’ll throw my arms open wide,
and shout to the world, WE CAN ALL GO OUTSIDE!
Don’t give up hope, the end is in sight,
if we all stick together, we’ll all win this fight.
Lavannya is a student ambassador for Save the Children Action Network in the US. Image: Save the Children
and one deadly microbe,
brought the whole world to a standstill,
and locked us in our home.
I didn't know I'd miss school,
or the endless work,
but this self-isolation,
really is cruel.
They say history books will record this,
as the time everyone stayed home,
as if we'll need something,
to help us remember this.
I miss being with my best friend,
and I miss her hugs.
I hope 'Stay at Home' doesn't extend.
I dream of a day,
where masks aren't needed.
A world without fear of infection.
I wish this virus,
will soon be defeated.
Safiyyah attends a public school in Toronto where Save the children did a child rights workshop last year, when Saffiyah also recorded a poem about children's rights for Universal Children's day. Image: Save the Children
Governments tell us, “Stay Home, Stay Safe” because of this virus.
I try to do my part but staying at home 24/7 is not that easy.
It is safe, but not easy at all.
Oh, how I miss my friends, our silliness, our long conversations.
I even miss our dramatic fights.
Oh, how I miss my freedom.
The freedom to be a child, to just run and play.
Oh, how I miss going out to the malls, the parks, meeting friends, visiting my family.
But then I think of the people who have no choice but to go out to work;
doctors, nurses, cashiers, soldiers, and many others.
They risk their lives so we all can stay safe and get the resources we need.
I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
I think about the people suffering, so many dying,
people who are gone forever from their loved ones.
They cry and weep but there is no use,
those who were loved are never coming back.
I think about the homeless and the hungry.
They already suffer every day, yet, now they are hit harder than us.
Why are they hit hard? I don’t know.
All I know is that we need to change this.
Then I say to myself, I can do this! I can do my part! I can stay home to stop the spread!
I can raise money for those who need it the most!
I can do this to stop the spread and you can too!
Leonardo has taken part in Save the Children's Fuoriclasse programme, which aims to combat children leaving school early. Image: Save the Children
This quarantine makes me think,
while I just want to drown in those thoughts,
that today, more than yesterday, remind me of its purity,
I seem to be on the other side, dreaming of my freedom.
Eun Jun Kang, 11
Eun Jun Kang attends a centre run by Save the Children after school, so he has somewhere safe to play and learn. Image: Save the Children
When there wasn't coronavirus, I could hang out with friends,
go to school and crowded places.
Now it is upside down.
I don't go outside anymore as confirmed cases rise.
That makes me stay at home alone without meeting or playing with friends.
We may not have summer vacation with the school's opening delayed.
I wish to go back in the days once the crisis ends.
Furugh, 10, and Aysha, 11
Furugh and Aysha were born in Iran. They left their home countries with their families, searching for safety and arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina where they currently live in a refugee centre in the Bihac region of Bosnia. Image: Save the Children
All you need to do is wash your hands and sanitize everything wherever you go.
People weren't wearing masks, so they started to die and that was when the quarantine began.
Until this day we are still in quarantine.
Thanks to doctors, we are still safe and sound.
Estefany has been out of school since March and is missing her graduation. Image: Save the Children
A virus that must unite us.
Before: outings, friends, the movies, parties, dreams, and goals.
Today: frustration, confinement, helplessness.
One day, you go out and enjoy what the streets can offer.
On the next, they ask you to stay home “for your own sake.”
The reason: a virus no one can see, but that has definitely made us feel so many things.
The days pass.
They pass like the news, each time sadder and more worrying.
Some say: “look at the bright side: time to reflect, time to share with your family, time for everything.”
Some of us find that difficult to understand.
We say “my goals, my dreams, school, graduation,”
here we have to put our resilience to the test.
I dream that we will get out of this,
I dream that you will stop your indifference.
Without a doubt, social poverty is what invades us,
and intellectual poverty what sinks us.
Oh, what helplessness I feel,
this helplessness, this crisis, this pandemic, is strong,
but we will be even stronger if we unite.
We have thousands of infected,
thousands, like the will to keep fighting on.
Thousands, like the hope of getting out of this.
Brother, join me, give me your hand and let’s face this,
because together, we are stronger.
Gradi is a member of the Youth Council, a structure set up by the Sexual and Reproductive Health Program of Save the Children in Kinshasa. Image: Save the Children
Once, we used to live well.
Meeting with my loved ones,
our families and my friends.
Today, we are forced to remain confined to our home.
No schools, no churches, no meetings.
Everyone is obliged to wear a mask and respect the prevention tips in order to fight against this disease, which is called coronavirus.
Save the Children works to help vulnerable children affected by COVID-19 by providing training and vital medical supplies to health workers around the world and distributing hand sanitizer, soap, and handwashing stations to in-need communities everywhere.
"Every context requires careful consultation to ensure we are meeting the needs of each community,” Law told Global Citizen.
"In Australia, we have adapted our Play2Learn sessions so that children can continue to learn and connect online. In Lebanon, we are refurbishing abandoned buildings to be used as isolation centers. In Papua New Guinea, we are using SMS, radio jingles, and social media to share important public health information to parents and caregivers,” Law said. “In Iraq, we’re delivering hundreds of hygiene kits to families that don’t have access to the clean water, soap, and information they need to protect themselves from COVID-19. In Ethiopia, we have mobile camel libraries bringing books to children in the desert.”
You can donate to Save the Children’s COVID-19 Crisis Appeal here: http://www.savethechildren.org.au/covid19.
You can also find out more about COVID-19 and its short- and long-term impacts on communities around the world through our coverage of the pandemic here and take action with Global Citizen throughout our Global Goal: Unite For Our Future campaign here.