CORONA VIRUS – A Young Girl’s Experience

When the term Corona first greeted Man, we scoffed at the name. In fact, memes were made and posted on social media. No one really took caution of this deadly virus. Now, I definitely believe that this disease will change our lives forever. It is sure to leave a scar. Before Corona reached to the point where people were actually emptying supermarkets in order to stock food in their homes because of the fear of catching the virus, we had Ebola and no one really took that seriously either.

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Now we walk around with masks on our faces. Those without mask dress up like Muslims tying cloth to their faces.

I first heard of Corona virus sometime around the end of January 2020. All I heard was that, there was this deadly virus in China that had started as a result of some people eating bats. They said some people were dying from it and the Chinese government was trying to isolate those infected. It all sounded so far-fetched and foreign. With China, so far away from Cameroon or Africa in general, I did not think we had to be concerned. In February, I left for school in Rwanda and I remember that at the airport in Kigali, the staff had masks on and handed hand sanitizers to the travelers which made me worry a little but since no other persons but the airport staff wore the masks, it still did not look bad.

While in school, news of the continuous spread of the virus was posted regularly on the school bulletin board, teachers warned us about it, everyday there was some kind of story pinned to the peach colored walls of the school keeping students updated about what was going on because it is very important to know what was going on with the rest of the world.

It was a boring old Sunday, same as every other and I was definitely dreading waking up that morning. So, when the warmth of a new day greeted me I was not very pleased. The idea of getting off my bed did not please my mind because despite the 4 weeks of being at this school, I was still a stranger to the cold but fresh air that covered Kigali in the mornings. I tried to tune off the sound of the matron telling us all to get up but she must have been holding up some kind of microphone or something because it was way too loud for something as typical as a Sunday morning. I guess I didn’t quite get the last part of the wakeup call because all the girls in the dorm started screaming at once. I couldn’t make sense of what they were saying. Then I heard it. “THE MATRON SAID WE’RE GOING HOME BECAUSE OF THE VIRUS”. I could not believe it. This is the second time this kind of thing has happened to me. Of all the boarding schools I’ve been to, there’s always been a situation or something that makes me have to leave the school long before time.

At my first boarding school experience, right at the beginning of the year it was announced that all students were to leave the school one month before the actual dismissal date because of a political strike. Now here I am in my next boarding school adventure and we have corona lurking around. Life is crazy. The whole dorm went mad. People jumped, rejoiced and celebrated. Heck people were singing and praising Jesus, thanking him for the miracle. We were going home two weeks before the Easter break. Now, I have no idea what made me do it but I too jumped down from my bed and joined in the screaming. Then it hit me like a tornado. I live all the way in Cameroon, half of the world has their flights booked already and my parents haven’t even checked their emails yet, so…………. I mean there is no possible way I’m going home today and as usual I was right. When I called my parents from the boarding master’s office, they told me, I was to spend another long day in the school. While everyone else left for our indefinite break, I was one of the few kids that had to stay back.

At first, the whole school still surrounded me, then about seventeen kids remained, and by evening, only five of us were left in the vast school estate. Already packed, we trotted the infinite hallways and massive dorms and trimmed lawns for hours that felt like days, with not much to do but wait for tomorrow.

We were all terrified to spend the night all by ourselves in the large now empty dorms. I mean, usually we have over 100 girls in the dorms with about 8 girls in each dorm room. You could hear animal noises of every kind in there, the hallway lights blinked several times just like in a horror movie. The icy cold wind swept the dimmed hallways back and forth, in and out of windows.  I thought it couldn’t get any worse until one of my friends wanted to tell us all a horror story and I took my beddings and left for the nurse’s office. The others were right behind me.

Of course, my brother was already in the nurse’s office. He was the only boy left in school and would not want to sleep in the boy’s dorm by himself. There were enough beds for all five of us. My brother slept in the room adjacent to us. I took a nice bath before drawing my blanket over me and closing my eyes to the world. The cold air hugged me tight and helped me dream of things I could not even remember the next day.  People used to ask me how is Rwanda, well I hope I just answered your question.

Morning came and we all got up to say goodbye to beautiful Kigali and I could not be happier. I longed to see my family again. We woke up at 3:00 am and left the school at about 6:00am. As we drove to the airport, I looked out the window of the tight black Toyota looking forward to all I had to do that day. I mean all kids who have ever attended boarding school would understand how it feels when you leave the school gates for the first time after several weeks of being in school. It’s like having Wi-Fi, after months of scrolling through your phone with no Wi-Fi. I felt like I had been disconnected from the world and they just put the plug back on. The endless yards of green grass and tall trees leading to the school fence was all I saw whenever I tried to look outside the school.

.        On arrival at the airport, I took out my pink cotton, long sleeve turtleneck sweater and tied it to my face with the intention of keeping my nose and mouth hidden. The airport staff stopped us where we stood and gave us a little interview about the pandemic virus. We were told to take hand sanitizer and move into the Kigali international airport. It took a while before we got on the plane and during that time, I could not breathe under that pink sweater which cooked me like a baked potato. So, I took it off sometimes for a little relief and put it back anytime someone came close. If someone so much as coughed, I would start bathing my hands in sanitizers…. just in case. People secured their faces with white plastic masks and it was like the airport had become a hospital.

It felt good to travel without parents or any adult hovering over us but odd too because it was my first time.

When we finally arrived Cameroon, I was really happy to be back. I kind of missed home. We couldn’t wait to go pick up my 7yr old sister from school. I had missed her so much. She was ecstatic, I mean she cried.

The first few days in Cameroon were kind of fun, until the Corona virus pandemic got real in Cameroon too. Right after we arrived, the government announced a lockdown of flights, schools, meetings etc. We have been stuck at home ever since like the rest of the world. We don’t know when things will get back to normal, if they will get back to normal. With nowhere to go but stay home, study, eat, indoor games, watch TV and write this story, I am trying to get rid of 20% of the boredom.

All in all, what we know so far is, this virus originated from China and later spread all over the world due to people travelling. Corona virus also known as Covid-19 is an illness that started making people sick at the end of the year 2019.The virus spreads easily and has affected so many people all over the world. Symptoms are fever, cough, trouble breathing and sore throat. The virus is more serious in older people and people with other health complications. It can also lead to pneumonia.

One can get infected with corona virus from others who have the virus. If an infected person sneezes or coughs, they may send tiny droplets into the air. These droplets can land in the nose, mouth or eyes of a person nearby or they can breathe in the droplets.

One can also get infected if they touch an infected droplet on a surface and then touch their own nose, mouth or eyes.

People who are infected with Covid-19 can get treatment in the hospital.

How can we prevent Corona Virus?

    • STAY HOME
    • Avoid other people and busy places
    • If you must go out, wear a face mask and gloves
    • Stay 2meters away from other people
    • Wash your hands regularly
    • Try not to touch your face
    • Disinfect surfaces and objects that people touch a lot.
    • STAY SAFE

 

THE HONORS CHORUS

 

Singing is basically one of my favorite things to do. I have been singing ever since I was five. I used to be so shy. I would never let anyone hear my voice. I never went for any singing classes or had any type of training. I just listened to my favorite artists sing from their hearts and I would do the same. It wasn’t always that hard. As the years past by singing in front of my family became a lot easier, but that wasn’t enough because the world hadn’t seen me yet.

So, when I got to sixth grade, I heard that my school had a choir and the best part was, you didn’t have to audition for it. The choir was a fun afters-school activity. We learned songs like jingle bells, Rudolph the red nose reindeer, and a very nice African song. We rehearsed every Thursday until the Christmas concert night. It wasn’t like a big thing but it was still pretty cool. There were snacks and we sang so many songs.

When the school choir was over, my music teacher told me about this big chorus group called THE HONOR’S CHORUS, she said we would rehearse in a different school with a bigger auditorium, and we would have a concert in the thrasher hall auditorium. People pay to see shows there and broad way actors, have starred there. Although there was a catch, you had to audition for it, and the teacher could only pick 10 students from each school in the county. Only 10 students. I knew I had to do my best. After the auditions, my teacher told us that we all had amazing voices but only 10 could be picked. The pressure was on. I was so nervous. What if I didn’t make it.

On Friday the results were out. We all took our seats in the school cafeteria as my teacher read out loud the names of the lucky ten students. Name, after name after name she read and my heart was beating faster and faster. With my throat tightened, fingers crossed and eyes focused on the lips of my teacher, I finally heard the name I had been waiting for… “LAST BUT NOT LEAST….” My heart had skipped a beat when I heard the name “HAMIRA SOPHREY”. I jumped in the air with excitement. It felt like winning the Olympics or getting the golden buzzer on America’s got talent. I was so flabbergasted. I had made it through the very first audition in my life. I was going to be singing with 200 other students that were picked from all over the county. The joy in me was boiling high.

Our first rehearsal was amazing and it was located at the Fleming island elementary school from 6:00pm-8:00pm in between we had snack breaks. There were two types of groups, The ALTO and the SOPRANO S. I was put in the Alto’s group. The sopranos were older and probably in high school or middle school. We rehearsed like ten songs over and over twice a week. Soon enough, it was time for a dress rehearsal which we had at actual thrasher hall. It was magnificent.

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We sang for hours, it was all so magical to me. For me to sing on a stage like that, in front of a very, very large audience was going to be a dream come true. For Lunch we had pizza, chips and Italian ice cream. It was the best day ever. On my way to the bathroom, I saw pictures of Broadway stars who had performed at the thrasher Horne hall in the hallway. l could never have been even a little less happy about what I was experiencing.

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On the big, big concert day, the parking lots were full and the lines to get into the hall were endless. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The seats were full.  It was showtime. As the curtains lifted and we started singing I knew that I will never forget this moment.  We started singing with our best voices, we sang like angels.  The audience loved it. You could hear the loud cheers from a distance. I had a blast. At the end we got flowers from family and friends. We were awarded plaques and DVDs of our performance.

After that amazing day, I am looking forward to more opportunities like the honors chorus. I have so far posted a video of me singing on flipagram and just two days had over 20 followers and a whole lot of likes. I am also writing my own songs. This is where it all starts. Soon enough, I’ll be having ice cream with Selena Gomez.

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THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year and no one should be alone at Christmas. This year, my family and I spent Christmas with my uncle and aunty in Phoenix, Arizona. Let’s backup to the part where we almost missed our flight to Phoenix.  It’s actually a pretty funny story. In our house, school is the number 1 priority, so even though we were traveling at 3pm on December 14th, we still had to go to school on that day before catching our flight. We all go to different schools and my mom was going to pick us up from school at 12:30pm so that we could drive directly to the airport. However, my brother who goes to middle school was supposed to come back home with the school bus because they were having a half day at school. My mom picked us up from school at 12:30pm as planned and we headed home to get my brother who was supposed to be home already but he was nowhere to be found. Long story short we finally saw him at 1:30pm. Our flight was in 1hr 30 mins and the airport was one hour away. We were the very last people to board our plane. In fact, we would have missed this flight, had we been just 5 mins late. Phew!!!!

We arrived Phoenix 10 days before Christmas and so had some time to visit the city. Phoenix is very beautiful and they are lots of fun things to do there. We exploited quite a few. We went ice skating and believe me when I say so nobody in my family has ever ice-skated before. This was the first time for all of us.  It was a bit scary but also exciting. On the first try, I was really bad. After falling so many times, my sister and I sat down and rested while throwing snowballs at each other. It was so much fun. After creating thousands of bumps on my butt I started getting the hang of things and soon I was a Pro. I guess practice makes perfect.

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I also spent a lot of time babysitting my one-year old cousin, Nadia. I really enjoyed taking care of her. I would make her laugh, sing to her. I learned how to change diapers, put her to sleep, feed her and even give her a bath. By the time we left phoenix she wanted only me most of the time. I miss her already. I also had a few chores too this holiday; like washing dishes, cleaning the living room and of course tidying my room and bathroom. I worked so hard that my uncle and aunty gave me some money and a beautiful watch for being a good helper during this holiday.

The reason why we were in phoenix was to celebrate Christmas. We went for the Christmas night service which was awesome. The décor, the music and the whole church was magical. The service ended with the lighting of the candle as we all sang to ‘silent night’. We ended the evening with a barbeque. When adults think of Christmas, they are more than excited to gather around for a wonderful meal. Kids like us think the complete opposite. We just can’t wait for…presents!!!

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So of course, we couldn’t wait to start murdering the carefully wrapped gifts. First, we prayed and even though it wasn’t thanksgiving, we gave lots of thanks and praise to God before moving on to the gifts. My brother passed out presents from under the tree. It first got a little quiet as we tore the wrappers, then came all the excited oohs and aahs and more thank yous. I got three amazing presents for Christmas; an Mp3 player with cool headphones, a mega awesome diary and finally a cute n’ purple jacket. My favorite gift was the diary. We also got a lot of candy in our stockings and an invitation from our aunt to go have ice cream and pizza at 1pm the next day. Fun, fun, fun and more fun. We all know Christmas isn’t all about receiving, so we must also give. I got my mom three presents; a necklace, a glass rose, and a lipstick/pen. She really liked her gifts.

My brother Prince’s birthday is the December 26th which is the day after Christmas. We went to a cool arcade called the Main Event where we played games, laser tag and bowling. The bowling was my favorite. We also enjoyed some good food and drinks. It was a good party.

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Then came new year day and we went hiking with my uncle. We climbed to the top of the mountain. Lots of cactus plants in Phoenix. It was good exercise but tiring. After hiking for hours, we stopped for some heavenly ice-cream before returning home.

New year day went by so fast and it was time to return to HOME. We packed our bags and said goodbyes before leaving Phoenix. We had a good flight back. This time around we arrived the airport on time. As I sat on the plane, I thought about some things I would like to do this year. Learn how to cook and write more often. I hope you all have a magical and prosperous new year.

 

 

Horror Hurricane Irma

It was September 11th 2017. On a not so bright and early morning. 2am to be exact. A horrible hurricane, occurred around the area where I live in Florida. It was a frightful time for everyone and here is how my family and I lived through it. (caution: Kids below 5 cannot read this or have this story read to them. It might give them the creeps.)

As usual, my dad was the one who informed us about this scary disaster that was about to happen. That’s because he watches the news more than the rest of us in the family.

On Thursday, after school, it was announced that they will be no school on Friday because families had to prepare for the hurricane. Now this was beginning to get serious. Hurricanes are dangerous because they knock down houses, kill people and cause floods. I was kind of anxious but also looking forward to experiencing a hurricane for the first time.

Anyway, once we heard what others were doing to prepare for the hurricane, we also went to the store to get some water, bread, canned food (mostly anything that you don’t have to cook to eat it), torches etc. It was hard to get stuff from the stores because there were long lines and people had already bought so much that the stores were running out of the things we needed to get for the hurricane. My mom and I went to all the stores in our area and we couldn’t find a torch.

After days of buying and watching the news, the day was here. Lucky for us, the area we live in was not going to be hit by the hurricane so we didn’t have to evacuate our area like thousands of other people had to. So instead of moving to Alabama as we had planned, we stay at home in Florida. That night we decided to sleep in our study room which is closer to the front yard and away from the tall trees in the backyard.

We moved the table in that room out of the way and brought down two mattresses to sleep on. It felt like camping as we all had to sleep in the same room. The lights started flickering and the trees in the backyard kept swaying from side to side. They were kind of dancing in slow motion. As the lights continued flickering, we quickly pulled all electrical equipment from the plugs, turned off the lights and went to hide in the room we had prepared. It was dark and scary and with the rain and wind, we somehow went to sleep.

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In the morning, the lights were back, but there was a lot of strong wind. Many leaves and branches had fallen from the trees; the whole place was one big mess. We turned on the news and saw how downtown had flooded badly. After taking a bath, we went out to see all the damage that the hurricane Irma had caused in the area. I couldn’t believe what I saw, houses had flooded, trees were uprooted from the ground, cars were swimming in water, boats were damaged, there was power outage almost everywhere. Even the traffic lights were off.

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It was a pretty scary experience. Even though I feel bad for all the damage caused by the hurricane, I am thankful that no one died from the hurricane.  This hurricane was very dangerous.  We were out of school for a whole week. Dear God, no more hurricanes.

 

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SUMMERTIME MEMORIES

Is your summer over already? Mine is. I keep thinking about, how much fun it was. I visited my grandparents, made a summer business, saw some of my friends, learned to cook, travelled a lot and had a barbecue with my family.

It was two months ago that my siblings and I arrived Cameroon on the 10th of June to spend the summer with my dad. Once we arrived we spent a few days in Douala before setting out on a road trip to kumba, Bamenda, Ekok, Nigeria and Limbe.

For a start, my parents wanted us to visit my grandparents. Our first stop was to kumba to see my mom’s parents. My grandmother was so happy to see us. My granddad was still at his Job, so my mom suggested that we go surprise him at his Job (principal of a school). His office was supercool. My sisters and I pretended to be principal and secretary while at his office. We all went home after that. My cousins, Tracy and Kylie came to visit and we had so much fun playing with them. In the evening, we all gathered around the table to eat a really good dinner of rice, chicken stew, pepper soup and some pork. Tracy and kylie stayed for a sleep over.

The next morning, we said our goodbyes, gave hugs and took some pictures before heading out to Bamenda to see my other grandparents (my dad’s parents). The ride from Kumba to Bamenda was longer than I expected. When we got there, I was so happy to see my grandma, grandpa, my friend Marita and my aunts. We spent a whole week at my grandmother in Bamenda’s house. My cousins in Bamenda came to see us (Stacy, Forchu, TJ, Caleb, Jordan and for the cutest…Shawn. Let’s not forget, their mom…my aunt Vera). After a week of eating, playing and just being with family, my sisters and I went with my dad to Ekok and Nigeria while my brother and my mom went back to Douala.

The ride wasn’t so long actually. Ekok was very hot but we survived anyway. The next day we went to Nigeria which is very close to Ekok. There we ate some ice cream, biscuits and chicken at this very beautiful hotel. We didn’t spend the night in Nigeria. We went back to Ekok. Did I mention that we found some homeless little puppies at our backyard in Ekok? We had no idea how they got there. But they were really cute.

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We returned to our house in Douala after a few days, we couldn’t wait to get started on our summer business. My sisters and I came up with this great idea to sell candies and chips this summer. It was a great experience. We sold at the Bonamoussadi market. Even though, we had so much fun, we also did have some challenges. We had difficulties speaking in French, giving change and it was super-hot outside. Other than that, lots of people bought our candies and chips. After selling in the market for two days, two of my mom’s friends bought the rest of our candies and chips. We were so grateful. We gave them popsicles in return to show our appreciation. We still haven’t spent the money we made from our business.

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 Our cousins Charles and Franklin had come to spent some days with us. We couldn’t wait to start my dad made plans for all of us to visit Limbe, the town of friendship. We went to the beach, ate some delicious grilled chicken and plantain tapee. We had plans to back to the beach the next day but it rained cats and dogs in limbe that day. Too bad, we couldn’t spend more time at the beach like we wanted but this was my best part of the summer. We returned to Douala and had a great barbecue at home with my aunty mama and uncle Dede. I can’t wait for next summer.

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Party Dog Style !!!

A lot of people love dogs so much, they think that they are soooo cute, but not me. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate dogs. I just fear them. Dogs scare me so badly, it’s hard for me to breath around them. Recently, I was invited to my friend Kaycee’s birthday party and it turned out to be a nightmare.                                              

I couldn’t wait to go to Kaycee’s pool birthday party. We actually got lost on the way there, but my friend’s mom, Susan gave us the directions by phone and we were able to find Kaycee’s house. When we got there, Kaycee and her mom welcomed me in.  Kayci’s mom immediately warned me that they had a dog. Now that was not good news.

Inside, all my friends were sitting in a certain room. So, I went to go sit with them. Suddenly a huge one-year old, 130-pound dog Rover came bounding into the room, jumping on me. I panicked, and ran out of the room, the dog ran after me, and chased me, my heart pounding like it was going to blow! As I ran, I entered the next room looking for a place to hide.  My eyes fell on Kaycee’s bed and I jumped on it, thinking that the dog wouldn’t climb on the bed, but I was wrong because this dog jumped on me and licked me clean. I just laid there and with my fear of dogs, I knew my death had come. When it was over, I was covered in dog spit. I was soaked to say the least.

I cleaned up and Kaycee’s mom decided that we go swim in the hot tub. With all that had just happened, I had to ask her to keep Rover away and that’s just what she did. I felt a lot of better at this point, no dogs and no running around. I was just about to start enjoying, another guest walked in with another dog. Worst of all, this dog could swim. If you throw a ball in water, this dog would go right in and fetch it.  So, while I was swimming, a friend of mine who was also invited to the party, decided to have some fun. She threw a ball into the pool, this dog jumped into the pool to get it and I started drowning as I saw the dog jump into the pool. Luckily, some other friends came to my rescue and ushered the dog out of the pool.

After swimming, eating and playing with make up for a while, we started dancing and someone decided at that time to let Rover join the party again. Yes, my nightmare was back. Even though, everyone asked me not to run, it is hard not to when you have a fear for dogs. I managed however to go to Kaycee’s room without the dog noticing and stayed there until my mom came to pick me up.

It was a crazy birthday party for me and I still need to figure out how to get over my fear for dogs.