Noneka Mthwa – Olisiwinga College

When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, people will hopefully realise the importance of loving, caring and protecting one another – and our environment, writes Noneka Mthwa, a Grade 9 learner at a small Eastern Cape school in Mzamba.

Covid-19 in an intangible air born virus and compared to the tangible and unlimited human ability, I think we can win this fight.

I live in a small village in the Eastern Cape, a few kilometres from the Wild Coast Sun Country Club.

I live with a family of ten. Financially it’s hard because our main source of income is the grant money and income from two working members in the family.

When schools closed in March because of Covid-19, I was devastated. It was scary but at the same time I believed it would work in my favour. I was planning on catching up on my studies, but I kept on procrastinating. What I needed was motivation but no one would give it me. My life changed completely during this time, all my dreams and hopes for the future were crushed.

That was until schools started reopening and people could start going back to work. With this risky decision by government the need to be more protected and safe became even more necessary. I could see people the people in my community walking around with masks and with some of them already going be to work, the chances of them contracting the virus increased.

Many people in my community started going out of their homes when the government announced opening the alcohol shops. Personally I think they should have been left closed. In most cases I saw groups of people drinking together and sharing cigarettes. This was dangerous because no one knows who has the virus and who doesn’t.

I knew there was nothing I could do about it, but I knew that by staying safe myself, I would be protecting them too. I believe that all it takes is one individual brave enough and smart enough to make this difference.

On the 6th of June 2020 my school opened. Since it is a new school, it is still small and this made it possible to go back. With everyone having their own desk to sit at, the social distancing became applicable.

The thought of going back to school made me shiver. My grandmother is old now and I don’t think her immune system would be strong enough to fight off the virus. But because not everyone got the opportunity to go back to school, I tried my best to pull myself together.

Sadly school is not the same anymore. I find it hard to contain myself when I’m in front of friends. I always feel the need to hug them. I want to breathe in the fresh air like I did before but all I can do know is breathe in the carbon dioxide I’ve created under my mask. Even with the temperature taking, disinfection of surfaces, social distancing, sanitising and wearing of masks, it’s not guaranteed that Covid-19 infection will be prevented, and in a child’s mine the smallest things are always the biggest and the biggest things always the smallest.

I believe nothing lasts forever, so Covid-19 won’t last forever either, and with so many things learned during this time, moving forward won’t be easy, but will be possible. When Covid-19 is over, I hope people will realise the importance of loving, caring and protecting one another. If I were the president, I would encourage home schooling and provide learners everything they need for it. I would also eliminated the use of fossil fuels in the production of electricity. By working together with the environment, we will be protecting Earth, ourselves and so the next generations won’t have to ask: Why? Why the previous generation left us to suffer like this!”

Since Covid-19, life has been unpleasant – like living in a small, dark place where it’s hard to breather or move. It’s like living in a completely different world, a world with limits. But I know that Covid-19 will one day end, even if it takes years.

  • This is a very sligthty edited version of Noneka Mthwa’s entry to Roving Reporters journalism themed writing project, Life After Lockdown – The Future We Want.  Click here to read more shortlisted entries submitted by various schools in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. 

For adjudicators’ reference: Entrant 11_Noneka Mthwa



Image courtesy

After the Covid-19 pandemic, will everything return to how it was before – or will we change how we live in the future? Will we realise the need to make this world a better place, both for people and for nature?

These are the key questions in Roving Reporters’ journalism-themed writing project, Life After Covid-19 – The Future We Want, catering the school learners in South Africa from from Grade 7 upwards.

The competition forms part of a broader reporting project supported by Super Save and Media Development and Diversity Agency.

“We are encouraging high school children to document their experiences of the pandemic and reflect on how they would like to see the world change for the better,” said Roving Reporters director Fred Kockott. “Reflection is a first step to change, and this project gives learners a voice and an opportunity to have some agency in how their future unfolds.”

We plan to run the competition through to the end of the school year, with a top entry published every fortnight.

Schools that wish to submit entries should click here to access the entry forms and writing guide to share with learners who wish to take part.

We encourage schools to use the writing exercise in ways that fit in with the Life Sciences, Life Orientation and English curricula.

For further information contact Fred Kockott on 083 277 8907 or email

Now read: Poet’s take on life after Covid-19: “We fell asleep in one world and woke in another”