#ChildrensVoices | 14 in Quarantine: A New Norm by Milani Yenanna

Milani Yenana (Supplied)
Milani Yenana (Supplied)

#ChildrensVoices is a ReaderLympics initiative, where children are invited to share their experiences of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. 

To submit your own letter, or to find out more visit

By Milani Yenanna, 14 years old

Yesterday I feared the unknown but today I live fearing for my tomorrow. One day we were at school, working and living our day to day lives and in a blink of an eye, it was all taken away from us.

I can faintly remember the day I heard Covid-19 had become a bigger threat in South Africa, but one thing I remember was the split second that I thought the end was near for mankind, and lately, I find myself thinking about that more than I would like to.

The little things we took for granted, like being around people, playing outside, would soon be out of reach and  feel more important in a couple of days. I went into my last week of school oblivious to the fact that it was in fact the last days of my normal school routine.

But during the first day of the self-isolation, I promised myself to stay positive and healthy, but it's challenging when the number of infected people increase each day and you can't help but fear for yourself. 

My sister and I are privileged to be in one of the schools that offers online learning but despite the privilege, we dove head first into online learning and didn't have enough time to digest our new reality of learning and living at home.

Waking up every day knowing that I had something to do, like an English comprehension or mathematical sums, keeps me occupied and active.

I found that if I was bored at home, I could read more pages so that I was ahead or I could practice those maths sums I didn't quite get right the first time, instead of being on my phone or in front of a TV.

Learning became one of the reasons I was able to wake up every day positive and enthusiastic towards the day ahead of me. 

I am so grateful to all my teachers and I salute them for keeping up and tolerating over 1000 students despite all those late submissions and incomplete activities. Online is a source of education that I will forever be grateful for, it has taught me independence and perseverance. I was overwhelmed at first but pushed myself knowing that I can and will do it.

My heart goes out to all the school learners that are not as privileged to get a chance to learn in any shape or form, during this lockdown.  Among numerous positive aspects of the National lockdown, like the abundance of stars at night from the lack of pollution there are some lesson’s I’ve learnt.

I identified my own personal challenges like my mental health and how important human contact really is. I took having friends, and people in general, around me for granted.

Waking up every day, being in the same environment, doing the same things and seeing the same faces, starts to mess with the way you think and how your brain functions.

You feel like you are trapped in a very dark tunnel but if you look ahead you see a speck of light at the end and that light motivates you and pushes you to stay hopeful throughout this difficult time. 

We are all going through this together and none of us have experienced what we are going through before. Ironically we are sticking together by staying apart in the hope of slowing down the rate of infection.

One day we will all look back at this time and ask ourselves what ’normal’ is because by the time we have dealt with the threat of the virus, nothing will be normal like we knew it before.

Our behaviour and actions will forever be altered but for now we separate and keep each other safe.

Stay at home, Bly tuis, hlala ekhaya, dula kontlung. 

If you are the parent of a teen struggling through the lockdown, the following resources are available to provide immediate support:

Suicide Crisis Line 0800 567 567 or SMS line 31393

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) Mental Health Line 011 234 4837

Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit (24 hours a day) 0861 435 787

Find a therapist near you on

Chat back:

Share your story with us and we could publish it. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325

Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @

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