QUARANTINE - DAY 12 - 17th March 2020
In a cold and rainy Bethlehem the people enter day 12 of quarantine. Israel announced today that it will shut all crossings to the West Bank while several European countries have announced a state of emergency with laws introduced to penalise anyone breaking curfews or instructions of self-isolation. In the UK we await daily announcements of what measures the government will take as the cases increase. A big question in many people's minds is how to maintain the safety of the elderly. With so many families separated by long distances - often in different countries - we now find shared concerns across the globe, of being separated from loved ones at this time when we would rather have them close to us.
A mother of four with adult children across the world shares her feelings at this time:
Here we are again, another day of quarantine and the coronavirus. I am a woman who lives in Beit Sahour, and usually enjoys early mornings in my town by walking for one hour with a dear friend, sharing the sunshine with the workers who have start working, watching the rubbish collection workers and enjoying the birds' morning chirping, drinking coffee and then going to work. ( A daily routine helps to give an energetic start of the day for me.)
For the past twelve days this scenario has been disturbed. All routines have been changed for everyone, but at least I can talk about mine. This town has experienced a lot through the past years, or since I have been born so many years ago. I am always very proud to be from Beit Sahour and I always believe that its people are very strong, brave, good organizers and have a lot of faith so that they can face any difficulties and problems.
This situation reminds me of the Second Intifada in 2002, and the complete closure of Bethlehem for 40 days. The social network and inhabitants created an amazing solidarity and support system, between all people within the community. It was effective and a great example of how to cope in these lockdowns.
If this is the case; why I am more worried this time? Why can’t I stop thinking of what comes next? What if we get the infection? Why I am terrified? And so many more questions inside me.
The quarantine started some days ago. Life has changed, aerobic classes stopped and we stopped moving around. It has been a mixed feeling of fear, anticipation, uncertainty and not knowing what to expect. And believe me, you don’t want to be part of this. Some days after the quarantine I have checked on the students from the different groups that I supervise through my work in the university, I try to let them know that they are not alone and we are all together in this distress, and we can help each other by talking positively together. I also check on my colleagues and friends and they are doing the same.
I couldn’t go to see my mother whom I usually spend 2-3 hours a day with. I didn’t go to say welcome back to my sisters-in-law who came from Egypt - they now have to be in 2 weeks home quarantine. I have contacted a student whose brother was infected, and later on she and all family were infected too. I feel it is important to be part of a support system within the community.
As for daily life, I wash my hands a hundred times a day; I clean, disinfect all that I can at home and always doubt if I have done it right, or if it was enough, or am I using the right disinfectant?. We cannot take the risk to have the infection at home as my husband has heart problems, so you can imagine how worrying life is. We, I mean my family which contains now my youngest son and my husband, stopped moving around – we only do so for emergency reasons.
On the other hand I am worried about my other children who live abroad as it is the same problem around the world. Meanwhile I have resumed my walks in the morning with my friend as we have agreed that we can take precautions when we do - we don’t need to hug each other or to be so close. I think I needed to feel that something goes back to normal, even with all the current situation.
Moving to social media; it is insane. Frankly I can’t follow all that is being spread on social media. I have stopped and only see what I need to see. In general, on social media you see people are reverting to religion in the extreme. Yes, we all need to have faith, to know that God will help us to survive. Some others like to publish and share their thoughts and feelings. I believe it is their way of dealing with the crisis.
I keep thinking that this is a case that will not end between sunshine and sunset, but I believe we can keep the sun shining in our hearts, in order to know the way to do the right thing after all ends.
Little Mila (pictured here) was the youngest person in Bethlehem to have caught the virus. She is 18 months old and contracted the disease 13 days ago but has now fully recovered. She was treated at home during this time.
With thanks to Mohamed Abu Haniyeh for today's photos