Ethiopia – April 10 2020

'I am praying for all this to be over soon'

Abeba Seyoum and her grandaughter, Meron*, from Harar, Ethiopia, talk about their struggles and fears in the corona crisis

"My children are at home now as schools are closed because of the coronavirus. The meagre income I used to get from the petty trading business I had barely covers the family’s basic needs now.

"I used to sell items like sugar, tea leaves and spices used for cooking. This pandemic is costing us a lot. We are faced with hard times and we don’t see the end coming anytime soon. Because of the restriction of movement in the town, I cannot go to the market to bring in items that I usually sell. The little profit I used to get is no longer there. We are struggling!

"We are told to protect ourselves and families from the virus daily by the media and community workers. We do know how to protect ourselves from this deadly virus and we use soap and water as much as possible to wash our hands. We have soap and sanitizer in the house but we cannot afford to buy personal protective items like face masks and gloves. I can only run around to put food on my family’s table and these items, although necessary, are not something I can try and provide to everyone in the house. I am praying for all this to be over soon."

Meron*, 13 years old

“I’m worried about the situation that this disease is causing. I cannot play with my friends like before. I feel like a prisoner at home. It is extremely difficult for our family. I help out around the house by cleaning, fetching water and other things that my grandmother needs help with. I guess I am protecting myself and others from coronavirus by keeping up with my hygiene and staying at home but I always think about when school will re-open. I think about my classmates. I’m also worried about how we will get by if this situation goes on for long because I know my grandmother will not be able to provide for us. I hear about people dying all over the world because of the pandemic and that scares me a lot. I am hopeful though, that it will all end soon and things will go back to normal. I really hope we will start school again soon.”

Abeba Seyoum lives with one of her adult daughters and her granddaughter, Meron*, in Harar, Ethiopia. The family used to receive support from the SOS family strengthening programme, which allowed Abeba to build up her business and support Meron who is in 7th grade. But the corona pandemic has caused a setback for the family.  

*Name changed to protect privacy