March 14 was when Rwanda got its first patient of COVID-19, but even before that, I was getting anxious about having been infected. A few days before that I was feeling a chill and I thought I got COVID-19. I asked the doctor to test it, but unfortunately, that clinic was not in the capacity to make the test and I just had an infection.
I got more worried when I met with a person who met the first patient; at night I was losing sleep thinking that if I sleep I won’t be able to breathe again! But after I realized that I was imagining the problem and it was due to the news I was hearing on the different media.
My situation is a clear picture of the panic that many people had here and worldwide. The lockdown started on March 21st. In the week before food shops made big stocks and you could see them overfilling and some informed people made big provisions. But this was mostly a big issue in Kigali because upcountry as many subsist through agriculture, they felt like it was not a big deal.
Lockdown was not easy in Rwanda as it met the 26th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis, on April 7th and which continues for 100 days. It is usually a tough period in Rwanda where people especially survivors need to be with friends and families to be comforted, to do veils and commemoration events, but due to COVID-19, this was not possible. However, people discovered other means at least to remember and share memories of their loved ones, through TV programs, social media, and phone calls. Though we would have wished to do the commemoration in a normal way, in my point of view, this time sharing the memories of the lost loved ones, especially on WhatsApp groups, was even more effective because there was no timeframe or fear of the public and people were good listeners as they weren’t working.
On the other hand, I feel very privileged that I lost nothing due to COVID-19 and the lockdown; around me, I see unemployment, hunger, poverty, death around the world, and many other problems. The government and other good-willed people tried to help the less unfortunate, with some of my friends we participate but it is never enough as the needs are many.
But I can’t end without saying a big THANKS to health workers, leaders, and Rwanda security forces that have done much to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on the life of Rwandans. Now lockdown has been eased and movements are possible almost around the whole country. We are grateful for that and hope this decision won’t pull back our situation on COVID-19.