How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the lives of children around the world? Thirteen children from two different countries, cultural backgrounds and faiths gathered online on 26 April 2021 to answer this question and to provide recommendations on how parents, teachers, governments, and institutions can support children in navigating through the challenges of the current times.
Children from Indonesia and Serbia participated in a 90-minute online session that started with a visit to the virtual exhibition “Faith in Action for Children.” The exhibition collects more than 200 artworks from children from 33 countries sharing their experiences dealing with the multidimensional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in their lives.
The participants had the opportunity to explore together the exhibition and reflect on the similarities and differences of the issues they and other children around the world are experiencing during the pandemic.This is the first of a series of so-called “guided tours” to the exhibition that aim to create opportunities for children to reflect on the impacts of the pandemic using an interactive 3D virtual environment to prompt their reflections.
“I think the problems that we face are mostly similar, but some of us, unfortunately, have it worse than others”, said Kayandhra from Indonesia. According to Kayandhra, the exhibition showed him that children with disabilities are even more vulnerable than other children after the disruption of social and health services due to the pandemic.
Jana, from Serbia, added that the mental and emotional health of children has also been affected. She stressed how beneficial it would be for children to have access to online platforms where they could contact a specialist and receive psychological support when they need it.
Towards the end of the session, the children were invited to identify actions that adults and young people can take to support children during and after the pandemic.
Freya, from Indonesia, raised attention to the importance of assisting children who might have been separated from their parents or caregivers due to the risk of infection. According to her, support systems should be activated to assist and protect children if their parents have to be hospitalized, for example.
But the children also stressed the importance of educating adults. “Some of them are believing in conspiracy theories that are harmful”, said Aleksa, from Serbia. And according to Ammara Falisha, from Indonesia, “Some adults are not properly educated, and they are not a good example for children.” According to her, not all adults are willing to follow safety measures to help contain the spread of the virus, so they need to be educated to become role models for children.
The virtual exhibition was launched during the Global Week of Faith in Action for Children, a series of events organized by Arigatou International and other partners in November 2020 to catalyze joint actions and responses to address the underlying issues that impact children’s well-being during and post COVID-19.
Arigatou International will continue to facilitate guided tours throughout the year to allow children from different parts of the world to get together and reflect on the impacts of COVID-19 and identify joint actions to address this pressing topic. The guided tours are also a follow-up to the discussions and commitments made during the Global Week in November 2020. Click here if you are interested in involving children in your community in one of these sessions.
Our gratitude goes to Ms. Ivana Barać, from Serbia, and Ms. Lilis Musyarropah, from Indonesia, for working together with us in organizing this session. This session would not have been possible without their support. And our most special thanks go to the children, for their valuable insights and recommendations.