"I am worried that we may all die of hunger" - Covid-19 in Nigeria
The most vulnerable in our world are being hit the hardest by Covid-19. If you doubt that, read the interview below. Mallama lives near Abuja in Nigeria and this is her experience of lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic.
How has your life changed since Covid-19?
Everything has become increasingly difficult since Covid 19. My children, all five of them are constantly at home since their school was shut down. The activities we used to enjoy like self help group meetings and ulcer care meetings have also been at a stand- still. All we do now is wave our friends through the window because we were told to keep a distance from people who are not family. It is all very frustrating.
What impact is this having on you?
Before the lockdown, we normally gathered to carry out self-care and, in the process discuss our problems and collectively take decisions. We support one another emotionally and psychologically. But since Covid 19, we have not been able to enjoy that communal support. This makes life very difficult to live.
Are you able to get information about Covid-19 and how to keep safe?
No one is telling us anything. In the earlier stages of the pandemic The Leprosy Mission Nigeria (TLMN) carried out an outreach programme and told the whole community about Covid-19, its symptoms, and how to protect ourselves.
Are you getting the medical support you need for other medical problems?
Sometimes, some of my children come down with cough and catarrh but I cannot take them to the community hospital because there are no drugs and even when available, the Nurses are too afraid to attend to them. Hence, I result to herbal means and they get better after a couple of days. But I do not know the herbal cure for malaria. We need cough syrup, anti-malarial drugs, and paracetamol.
How are government restrictions impacting you?
Before the lockdown restrictions I was a petty trader of household items but now all my items have been sold and I can't go to the open market to buy more. Even the savings we had have all been used to cater for the family. My husband's hands are also tied because he cannot go out to sell his farm produce. The future looks very bleak.
Sometimes we go to bed without dinner and I can say that the same is true for the majority of people in our community. If something is not done quickly, a whole lot of us will die of starvation before Covid-19 gets to us.
Is there anything that you are worried about?
I am worried that we may all die of hunger and starvation if something is not done urgently. We also hear that Covid-19 is transmitted through the air, but we do no have face masks or hand sanitiser. We don't have enough money to buy food, never mind anti-bacterial soap!
What do you want the world to know about what it's like to be living through Covid-19 as a person with disability?
A person with disability suffers 10 times more than a person without disability because of the social, economic, and institutional barriers that we face. Our major challenge is how to fend for our families, it is very depressing to watch our children go to bed without dinner and with no hope of getting any the next day. Please TLMN, come to our aid just like you have always done, we need you more now than ever.