QUARANTINE - DAY 19 - 24th March 2020
As the UK enters day one of lockdown, following other countries across the world, we are able to appreciate the worries that people have felt in Bethlehem for the past weeks. How quickly will the number of cases around us increase? How long will this last? How disruptive will this be to people's work and education? One young medical student relays some of his thoughts:
It is day 19 of quarantine. I came back home from university for a long weekend, as I often do, to see my family. When I arrived, they announced the beginning of the quarantine. My original three-day visit has now turned into 19! My clothes and things are all still in my flat in Nablus and I don't know when I will be able to return there.
I am a medical student in first year at Al-Najah University, which is near Nablus, and I share a flat with three others near the university. Usually I make the 3 to 4 hour journey from Nablus back to Bethlehem every fortnight back home to see my family. Now I am studying everything online - we have online lectures, quizzes and assignments. These are still being taken by students in my university every day. Because there is nothing better for us than knowledge. We wait to hear what will happen over the next few weeks as all of Palestine is now under curfew. I miss my friends, teachers and university life and hope they are all safe and sound. I also worry how this will impact my medical studies and my degree. I look at the doctors working so hard across the world, many losing their lives to fight this hidden enemy and it has made me more determined to work hard and become a doctor.
When I am not studying, I watch movies with my family and cook a bit. My family are very pleased that I am back because I am an expert at making "shatta" (Palestinian spicy sauce) and no one in the family knows my secret recipe ;)
All schools, universities and businesses in Palestine have closed. People aren't allowed to walk in the streets anymore. They don't even want to – they are worried that they will get that covid-19 virus. Everyone is sitting at home waiting for the end of this crisis. I never thought such a thing would ever happen to us. In our beloved city of Bethlehem. People are terrified of the next two weeks. They say this is the determining moment. The situation either gets better and we defeat the spread of the virus. Or, indeed, the virus will defeat us.
"On this land there is something worth living for," - Mahmoud Darwish
Photo courtesy of Mohamed Abu Haniyeh