Roger : Lockdown at Mon Refuge in Togo

Here are a few lines about the experience of lockdown at Mon Refuge

For two months last year, schools and all higher education institutions were closed because of Covid-19 to prevent its spread in schools. So since then, the children have all been at home.

In order to control contact with the outside world as much as possible, all the young people from the Djagblè household are brought back to the Mon Refuge centre except for Joël, who continues to go to his aluminium carpentry workshop. The schools are closed but not the manual training workshops and the markets.

For a month the road from Mon Refuge to Djagblè has been barricaded by the military. As a result, it was impossible to get food at the market in Avèta or in Lomé. I had to make detours along small bush roads to reach Avèta and Lomé. It was like being in wartime or in prison where you had to use gymnastics to find food.

The lockdown only concerned the hours from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. This is the period of time when no one was allowed to go out in the streets.

At Mon Refuge we had to cut off contact with the outside world. Only the staff team could go out to run errands. We set up a hand washing point and made masks for the children with paper towels.

One of the difficulties was having the children at Mon refuge all day long. Usually it's more from 12.30pm. This has forced us to adapt by rotation as we were under-staffed for a 24/24 control.

But the good side is that we took the opportunity to go back to the basics of group life, to work in the field instead of renting a tractor, to organise revisions in the hope of resuming classes this year, to discover that we have an open space to understand and to accept to walk on the feet of time. It's true that it was complicated to manage daily life but luckily we had the experience of summer camps where you have a larger group of young people.

Here, lockdown rhymed with the closing of schools and curfews, silence was not an option at this time because 42 young people together all day long shouting and running around,means a lot of noise and mischief . The cleverest flee from vigilance for the time of a blink of an eye. One discovers rather how to manage the overflow of time and the boredom that creeps in from time to time.

We had had some trouble managing the catering for over a month but it's going much better.

This time of lockdown was sometimes lived in fear of the risk of being in the same place again. But we were aware that it was a moment that would pass but for now we keep smiling and the joy of living. We think a lot of people who have been infected by the virus