The onset of the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic has not left anyone alive unaffected -- including the world’s children.
Several of these young minds -- aged between nine and eighteen from across the globe, shared their reflections on their respective experiences of the health crisis.
They are from the United States, Rwanda, Australia, India, Australia, Italy and Brazil.
Last year in Kigali, Rwanda, Tresor Ndizihiwe was drawing pictures of mayhem in his country that he thought the pandemic would make worse.
Now 13, he's back to playing soccer with his friends. He's also trying to catch up on schoolwork that he missed during lockdowns because his family had no computer or TV to access classes. Last year, he said he wanted to be a soldier. But the pandemic makes him want to help with whatever comes next — as a doctor.
The extra studying is a necessary undertaking considering his new life’s ambition.
"What I would wish is to become a doctor in medicine so if another pandemic arises, I can help treat people in need and get solutions for society."
This fresh high school graduate Michaela Seah is from Palo Alto, California, United States.
Just a little over a year ago the 18-year-old was in quarantine in her bedroom for two weeks with a fever to help keep her family safe.
And now, she's off early next year to embark on her higher education at New York University with a semester in Paris, France — a big difference from the lonely confines of her room
"Now, I'm realizing that if there's an opportunity for, like, memory making, you have to go for it because there could be a chance that that opportunity will disappear."
In New Delhi, India, Advait Vallabh Sanweria and Uddhav Pratap Sanweria, ages 9 and 8, have busied themselves playing the tabla drums, yoga and playing and wrestling together, as brothers do, as the pandemic has raged around them for more than a year. The latest wave of COVID in India has left more than 230,000 people dead. Worried for their family — especially their elderly grandparents — that makes the brothers want to use all the curse words they know.
Last year — when Italy was so hard hit — now age 12, was dancing hip-hop alone in her room in her family's Rome apartment, using her cell phone to connect to class. She's elated to be able to spend time with friends again.
12-year-old Elena Maria Moretti Italy was taking dance classes via her smartphone last year when her native Italy was hit hard by the health crisis last year. She is elated to be able to once again spend in-person quality time outside her home.
"My life has changed because now I can go out and see my friends and I'm happier than before when I couldn't do anything. Staying home was ugly."
In Melbourne, Australia, Niki Jolene Berghamre-Davis, now age 12, recently spent another two weeks in mandatory lockdown with her family and new dog, Bailey. She's getting tired of it but understands that it's kept COVID cases in her country very low.
With cases still rising in Brazil, 16-year-old Manuela Salomão in Sao Paulo says she's had to grow up quickly as her country faces a vaccine shortage. She says she's more mature and empathetic. She spends most of her time indoors doing kick-boxing and studying, for instance.
The coronavirus epidemic seems to have left this unidentified African American teen wise beyond his years.
"I feel like I would do anything, any means necessary to just keep my family safe. So I feel like I should stay in the house because of that.
His fellow compatriot 17-year-old Freddie Golden in Chicago appears to exhibit a similar running theme of pandemic inspired accelerated maturity. While he sometimes struggled during the pandemic, he says it's made him a stronger person.
"The pandemic has made me tougher mentally and just being in a different situation than I'm usually in, I feel like when you're uncomfortable, it always makes you stronger."
He is also happy his city is opening back up. He was able to go back to school in recent months and is playing basketball again at his favourite gym.
Overall, these young people in their various corners of the world have exhibited resilience.
We can all take away lessons from the strength and positive spirits of our world's children in order to overcome the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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