Coronavirus, Lockdown, and Experiences
2020 has been a tough year for everyone around the globe, with all the sanitizing, cleansing, masking, and extreme uncertainty. It has been even tougher on the children who were locked in houses without any idea about when they would get to go to school again and meet their friends and teachers. Some of these children were lucky enough to attend at least online classes and interact with their peers, but children from underprivileged sections of society who don’t have access to the internet or even devices were left with the same uncertainty for almost a year. By the end of the year, governments took an initiative named “Mohalla Class” for the students of government primary schools so that children could gather in small groups in an open area and teachers could visit these areas to teach the children.
As the first wave began to fade out, the Uttar Pradesh government started to prepare for the reopening of schools from March 1st, 2021. We also conducted Let’s Start Art sessions in a few mohalla classes to reconnect and interact with children before the schools officially opened. In the month of February 2021, our art instructors Ajay, Anjali, and Neelam conducted 14 art sessions in 8 Government Primary Schools of Varanasi with around 113 students.
Since this was the first time since the lockdown began that we were interacting with the students, the art sessions were conducted on the theme “Coronavirus, Lockdown, and Experiences” with an aim to encourage the students to recall their experiences throughout the lockdown and express their feelings about it. Children also made drawings of their understanding of how coronavirus might look like.
Vaibhav, a student of class 5th, imagined various forms that the virus might have taken. He told us that due to the virus and pandemic, he couldn't really study much. Although he has a smartphone at his home, learning over the phone isn't something that he was comfortable with, and is glad that the schools are opening soon.
"We were not allowed to go out of our houses, because there was a virus outside. I think it looks very dangerous.", said Tanu, a student of class 4th, when asked about the effect pandemic and lockdown had on her life.
Aditya Shaw, a student of class 5th at Government Primary School Sunderpur1, told us, "I think the virus must a big-scary thing to cause this much damage to the world". He has also written "Do not go outside" in the center of his drawing in Hindi.
Let's Start Art sessions were conducted in Government Primary Schools at Bhadaini, Kabirnagar, Durgakund2, Kodai Chowki, Lolark kund, Sonarpura, Nayi Sadak, and Sunderpur1. Let's Start Art also participated in an international exhibition "Impressions, expressions, and Imprints" by Inger Margrethe Larsen, an artist from Denmark. 4 students from different schools participated in the exhibition.