By Bénédicte Wonganombe, a resident at Hope House

When this pandemic started, there was a lot of speculation about the mode of transmission, as well as tips on how to fight or cure the disease. On social networks, there was a parade of African recipes of grandmothers who had previously fought against influenza or other infections. Initially, some said that COVID-19 was a disease of white people and didn’t infect black people. Now we all know how to protect ourselves against this pandemic. At Hope House, we had a meeting session with Martha Stein, director, who explained the importance of social distancing, staying at home, washing hands, and the like.
As an immigrant and asylum seeker, my concern centers on the duration of this pandemic – will it last six months, a year, five years, 10 years? Will we ever meet our families back in Africa one day? Must we continue to sit at home while handing our lot over to God? As everyone now knows, we are in uncharted territory.
I come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where there has been an Ebola epidemic for the past three years. But this did not impact the capital city of Kinshasa, where I lived with my family, so this is the first time I have consciously experienced such an epidemic, although as a young child I was disabled by polio.

By Roseline Souebele, a resident at Hope House

Hope House residents are adjusting well to social distancing, though with schools and non-essential businesses closing, the residents are feeling a mix of fear and uncertainty. Thanks to God, Hope House staff are reaching out, providing assistance with basic needs like toilet paper and food. We are very grateful that they are checking in on us almost every day, and we are hopeful that this crisis is going to end soon and we will be able to go back to normal life. Some residents work at essential jobs, so they are continuing to do their duty, while worrying, “What if?” Others are staying home, taking English classes remotely, and following the news on TV. This experience is bringing back bad memories that we have; we are all just realizing that we are safe nowhere in this world. Life is hard. It is even harder at this particular time to think about our families back home.