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Adolescent experiences of covid-19 in Lebanon

Mohammad, a 19-year-old out-of-school working Palestinian boy from Lebanon

Lebanon’s Ein El Helwe camp is under COVID lockdown and special precautions are being taken to ensure that the virus does not infect the camp’s residents. This picture shows one of the ‘disinfection rooms’ that the Palestinian civil defence has built at each camp entrance.  Adolescent girls and boys are actively working to help keep camp residents healthy. They run the disinfection rooms, purifying people’s hands and clothes, and distribute information brochures so that everyone understands the challenges of the pandemic. Adolescents also sanitise the streets with special equipment. Few people leave the camp now, because markets are closed.

Rawan, a 19-year-old Palestinian refugee girl from Syria

Since the COVID lockdown began, I prefer nights over days. I used to study at a vocational school, but in-person classes are cancelled, and online classes are not offered.  My father and brother have lost their jobs, and my parents fight all the time over how to afford enough food for our family—especially since prices have skyrocketed as our income has plummeted.  As I cannot leave home, I escape by sleeping all day and staying up at night to enjoy the silence.

Naya, a 19-year-old out-of-school Palestinian girl from Lebanon

The roof of my home has become my sanctuary. My parents are ill and cannot get treatment. My brother and uncle have lost their jobs. With no income, my family can no longer afford enough food and I cannot buy sanitary pads when I need them. Every day is the same. I do the housework and then I either watch TV or play on my phone. I used to occasionally visit friends or neighbours when I was feeling suffocated, but now all I can do is go to the roof to cry alone.

Mohammad, a 19-year-old out-of-school Palestinian boy from Lebanon

I am trapped between inflation and the COVID lockdown. This picture shows some of the merchandise that I bought for my barber shop. I had to buy a lot because prices were doubling every few days. The shop is now closed, due to the pandemic—but rent is still due. I am losing money and may have to close my business.  My father, who is a taxi driver, is also struggling. Some days we cannot afford gas for the car. With our incomes shrinking, and prices rising, my family has already but back on what we eat.

Sarah, a 16-year-old Syrian refugee girl married at 15

I am overwhelmed by my life since the COVID lockdown began. My sister-in-law and I are now the only ones in the family who are working. Every day we go to the fields, though we work fewer hours and earn less money.  When we come home, we must do all the housework—which has multiplied because the men are not working and are staying home all day. My husband is angry that he is not working and stressed because our financial situation becomes worse every day. He is mad at me all the time. I have too much work to do and too much stress.

Thuraya, a 19-year-old Syrian refugee girl married at 15

Every day is exhausting since the quarantine began. Because my husband lost his job, we have no income and can no longer afford to buy bread.  This means that every day, in addition to doing the housework and minding my children, I must bake bread so that we do not go hungry.  My infant daughter cries all the time. My son is becoming more and more difficult to control.  I am so tired and so stressed that I often hit them.

Zeina, a 17 year-old Syrian refugee girl married at 16

My life was difficult before the pandemic, but now it has become a black hole. I have a newborn who cries all the time. I do not know how to comfort him.  My mother, who should be here teaching me how to care for him, cannot come—because of the lockdown.  My husband has lost his job and is angry at me all the time because he is stressed about our financial situation. We cannot afford to buy the things that we need. I am constantly worried about running out of milk and diapers for my son. I am so tired of life.

Loulou, a 15-year-old in-school Lebanese girl

For one day I felt happy. After so many days in quarantine I heard that the situation in Lebanon is improving and that schools might soon reopen. I felt normal, with no gloomy feelings, for the first time in a long time.

Isabella, a 16-year-old in-school Lebanese girl

I am scared for my grandparents, because the corona virus affects the elderly more than young people.  My grandfather is in the hospital, struggling for his life. My grandmother was afraid to go visit him, for fear of catching the virus, so I went with her. She did not have the choice to stay home and stay safe, because my grandfather told her to come.

Marie, an 18-year-old in-school Lebanese girl

I have developed several new and healthy habits during lockdown. Because I have time, I now read every day.  This has brought me great joy. I have also begun photographing the sky. I do not know why I started doing this, but it has become an essential part of my day. I ponder the sky and take pictures to document how amazing nature is.  This helps me meditate and feel calm and relaxed.