Since the outbreak of Covid-19 at the end of December 2019, all sectors of human life the world over have experienced unprecedented change. After several months of lockdown and so many restrictions, we are getting used to the phrase the ‘new normal’ orchestrated by the coronavirus pandemic. While the race to search for a vaccine goes on, we are told again and again to keep physical and social distancing, to wear our mask outdoors and to observe the mandatory hygienic protocol wherever we go.
Life in the 2nd Cycle Formation Centre in Nairobi has changed quite drastically over the last three months since the first case was confirmed in Kenya in early March this year. Although the country has never introduced a strict lockdown making it mandatory for people to stay at home, the formation community imposed on itself additional restrictions for all residents except for those who went out for weekly shopping. This helped us to cope with the fear and anxiety that accompanied the advent of the disease at the beginning. Now, community members can dare to carefully venture outside for exercise as people are getting used to the ‘new normal’.
Over this period of lockdown in the community, a lot has been happening. Physical learning at Tangaza was suspended, yet eLearning platforms have flourished. Through these platforms, courses were completed, comprehensive examinations were done and some individuals have followed online courses in areas of personal interest.
Apart from a renewed interest to learn Swahili by a good group of students, the development of practical skills have emerged. Painting has been one of the prominent areas. With the help of student volunteers who have worked dedicatedly for the last three weeks, the whole Formation Centre has been beautifully renovated. Notwithstanding the occasional errors and splashing of paint here and there in the process, some who could barely handle a painting brush at the beginning were credited as ‘professionals’ by the end of the renovations by their mates!
In the area of music, two main interest groups emerged: one group of students seized the opportunity to learn how to play the keyboard with help of those who are already competent, while a second group nicknamed ‘Acapella’, explored their talent in singing. This singing group did weekly melodious recordings and produced captivating videos of the Sunday responsorial psalm which were widely shared on the social media.
Finally, to fulfill the English saying that ‘learning without play makes Jack a dull boy’, other students seized the opportunity, in the absence of team sports, to learn skating. So hilarious were the first trembling steps and free falls of the novices; but what joy you could see in their faces when they got the hang of it.
The spirit of creativity is truly alive even under lockdown. This shows not only our resilience at this time but also calls upon any community not to allow its gifts and talents to be locked down by coronavirus. It is possible to learn, nurture and blossom even now.
Damien Fuh, mhm
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