If you’re bored, anxious or overwhelmed by the COVID-19 restrictions on socialising, you’re not alone. For Compassion assisted children in Ethiopia, the world has changed—but joy can hide in unexpected places. Four children share the silver linings they’ve found in this unprecedented season.

Schools are closed, playing outside with friends is forbidden. Visiting family is not possible, and going to church is out of the question. What’s a child to do?

For these four fun-loving kids in Ethiopia, restrictions to stay at home are tough, but they’re learning to adapt, developing new skills, and even finding joy in the small things.

They share their favourite things to do in lockdown—and what they’re most looking forward to doing when they can leave the house!

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Tinsae, 6

Spending more time with Dad

“I’m happy because my dad is spending more time with us at home,” says six-year-old Tinsae. Her father, an evangelist, was rarely home before restrictions halted church gatherings. His work required him to stay late ministering to people—but now he’s home, and even if he steps out for chores, he’s back soon.

She’s also found a new pride in helping her mother. “Previously, when my mother told me to sweep the floor, I used to sneak out to play with my friends or I would just half-heartedly do it and run out. Now, I enjoy it! I like to see the house clean.”

Though she is making the most of her time at home, she has already planned the first thing she’ll do once restrictions have ended.

“Rolling on the ground is the first thing I will do when this coronavirus is over. If people see me and say I’m crazy, I’ll tell them they should do the same," says Tinsae, giggling. “If I can’t do that, then the next best thing would be running barefoot to church. I can’t wait for this thing to be over.”

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Arsema, 8

Chopping onions with Mum

Arsema says her favourite thing is learning new skills from her mum, now that they have more time together at home. She’s mastered making the bed, cleaning, and organising the family’s utensils. But what she most enjoys is … peeling and chopping onions!

With her mother by her side, she carefully prepares the vegetables at mealtimes.

“I’m also happy because I have more time to read,” says Arsema, who loves Amharic children’s books, as well as her school books.

“The first thing I will do when I’m told I can go out is to run to the church and hug my friends,” she says. “I miss going to church and to school, too. I miss my friends.”

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Afomiya, 7

Paper planes and coffee parties

“As long as my mother and big brother are around, I’m happy,” says Afomiya.

Since the government restricted movement and closed the schools, her mother, Bayush, has stayed at home. As the youngest child, Afomiya has found her mother’s constant presence a great comfort.

Her big brother, 13-year-old Mikias, tells her jokes, teaches her how to make aeroplanes out of paper, and tickles and wrestles with her.

But Afomiya’s very favourite game is pretending to have a coffee party. She makes her coffee using a broken coffee pot and cup, with fine sand as coffee powder. She serves cup after cup to her guest of honour—Mum!

Even as she is enjoying her time at home, Afomiya’s mind sometimes drifts, and her smile fades when she thinks about her grandmother.

“The first thing I will do when COVID-19 is over is go to visit my grandma. I miss her a lot.”

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Daniel, 5

Washing the dishes … no, really!

“I’m happy because my mother lets me wash the dishes and glasses,” says Daniel, earnestly.

He patiently waits until the dishes pile up so he can wash them, under the careful eye of his mother, Hirut. He also cleans the house and makes the bed, always asking what he can do to help.

When he isn’t doing chores, Daniel is either cutting paper and colouring or watching his mother prepare snacks to sell. Hirut supports her family by selling sambuusa and other snacks on the roadside close to home.

“When it’s time to go back to normal, I will wear my uniform, pack my school bag, and go to school,” says Daniel. “I miss school.”

Find out more about how COVID-19 is affecting Compassion program centres, local churches, and registered children, here.


Words by Tigist Gizachew and Richard Miller

Photos by Tigist Gizachew