ARTICLE

Quarantine: A Year of Constraints and Compassion

Earl Matammu

One year since our world was seemingly put to a halt, we can definitely say that it was one of the most momentous years we’ve had. I would even go as far as to state that its impact will be felt by the generations to come. The COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine taught us many unique things about ourselves, our homes, and our world, in a way that no crisis in recent years has ever done.

 

The past year

 

For many of us, it was the year that we realized how we took our everyday conveniences for granted. Our day-to-day challenges were magnified. We gained a greater awareness of how fragile our current systems are, the impact of our decisions, and the constant presence of challenges. Collectively, we’ve also come to realize that the crisis we face is not only about health and the battle is not only against a virus.

 

Navigating through a full year in quarantine left many of us lonely, afraid, and hopeless. In order to ensure the health and safety of our loved ones and our communities, we had to distance ourselves from one another. We had no choice but to stay in one place, most of us separated from our families and loved ones. “When will the waiting end?”, we continue to wonder with an anxious curiosity.

Prolonged waiting

 

As the pandemic stretches on, we have begun to once again feel the apprehensions that taunted us this time last year. But isolation, loneliness, and waiting with no end in sight—these are experiences most familiar to orphaned and abandoned children. In our country, hundreds of thousands of children have long struggled with the same anxious thoughts we had to face since the start of the quarantine. The sad reality is this—with or without a pandemic, they have had to learn to deal with hopelessness and sadness at such a young age.

 

Perhaps the biggest difference is that when this is all over, there are no hugs to miss or reunions to look forward to. For many of these children, there wouldn’t even be any family, relatives, or friends to go home to. In one of our live chats, Jodi Jackson Tucker shared this heart-wrenching truth:

 

“Here we are, going through this dark time, feeling like we’re inconvenienced, waiting for it soon to be over. But for the orphan, there’s no “soon.” The same way we feel held back from our loved ones, locked inside, kept from each other; we’re waiting, “Any moment now, things will open up. We’ll be able to be reunited with those we love. We’ll be able to embrace those we love and see those we love.”

For the child in an orphanage, this is their life. The same feelings that we’re having now—this is their life every single day. They don’t have the hope that things will be over soon. They’re not waiting to be reunited with that relative. No one is coming for them. They’re not waiting for the doors to open when they could go out and embrace that person that they love. It just hurt my heart so badly to think of how blessed we are that we even have the hope that this will soon be over and we can go back to our lives and be together with loved ones and not be kept inside. The orphan doesn’t share this hope.”

 

It’s not just the internal experience of hopelessness that children have to overcome in this time of quarantine. Equally, if not more, critical is their need to be protected from the world around them. Now more than ever, children in unsafe homes and communities are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and poverty, to name only a few circumstances.

 

Aside from these immediate risks of the pandemic on children, there are also long-term effects. Education, safety, stability, hope, and even the most basic of needs—these are things that thousands of children are being deprived of as more days of quarantine go by. Children’s rights are at risk of being at their all-time low, and the concern for orphans continues to move farther from the forefront when it comes to policy-making in many communities. These are realities that have always been present in our society, and only more so realized this past year of pandemic.

Hope and compassion

 

ROHEI Foundation seeks to change just that, one child at a time. We seek to see a shift in the mindset of more Filipinos to consider orphans as part of their communities, to provide more channels for families to adopt, and to support waiting children in their journey of finding and joining loving homes.

 

Our hope is that the collective isolation we are facing as a nation creates in us a keen awareness of the human need to be with loved ones. A deeper understanding that all children need love and belonging but not all are fortunate enough to have them. In the same vein, may we have a tighter grip on hope, compassion, and courage—that as we face a post-pandemic Philippines, we will dream again for the generations to come. We will choose to help our children prepare for the upcoming challenges this new world will bring. We will do our part so no orphan will ever experience permanently the isolation we struggled with momentarily.

 

A year into this pandemic, we ask ourselves—and this is a question we can all ask ourselves—knowing what we know and feeling what we feel now in quarantine, how can we speak and act on behalf of these vulnerable, isolated, oft-forgotten children?

 


Read: Small Act, Big Impact

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