Performers at Esperanza Welcome Ceremony in Matadi. © Pierre Gleizes
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Hello fellow Humans! My name is Orieny Japheth, a volunteer for Greenpeace Africa living in Nairobi, Kenya. Till last month I hadn’t really appreciated the importance of freedom of movement and all the benefits that came with it. Since COVID-19 virus cases have been reported in Kenya, I have been staying at home; as a student there is no work I can do from home. Now I think I’m beginning to understand what animals in zoos must feel like. I know by staying at home, I’m not just protecting myself, but I’m also helping to keep those people I care about safe.

It’s been hard, but with encouragement from fellow volunteers, family and friends I have managed to stay strong and vigilant. We are stronger together and in order to protect ourselves and keep others safe, we all need to obey and follow the government’s directives and protocols. We give each other hope and this helps us stay positive.

Before, I used to engage in many activities, not just as a student, but also as a community member. The Coronavirus has made this a challenge. Therefore, I have resorted to some of my hobbies: reading has always been my favourite, novels, articles and any piece of interesting material I come across. My fellow volunteers have been helpful with this, as they aid with links to a lot of materials. I read, because while I am immersed in books, I get to escape from reality (just for long enough). The books are thought provoking and help me to learn new things. Knowledge is power,right? I strongly suggest that you gather yourself some power.

I listen to music and watch movies (and series) for entertainment and passing time. Moreover, one can learn a thing or two from the messages in these artistic works. Anything that helps me beat the boredom and overcome the idleness. 

To my future self, I want to say that: “You are resilient, strong and fortunate to be a volunteer at Greenpeace Africa. Meeting all the other volunteers has enabled you to grow and become more than you could ever have imagined. If you survive this virus remember that you did so, because of the people surrounding you #PeoplePoweredSolutions.”

To everyone else out there, I want to tell you that you are stronger than you know and you aren’t in this alone. We (human race) have experienced worse challenges than this and we will survive this. Together. From the ashes we will rise again, stronger and more powerful than we were before. This pandemic has provided us with a unique opportunity to remember what we already knew … We need to coexist with nature, we need to find a way to strike a balance between nature and humans, between development and environment. Let’s help make sustainability more than just a concept (because that’s what it is now, an idea). This is the only way we can achieve peace in the world, united (nature and man).