The COVID-19 crisis has taken a psychological toll on people of all ages. Though the pandemic has disrupted our lives, we have also had the opportunity to learn so much about ourselves. This time in lockdown has allowed us to unlock our potential and seek new ways of keeping our minds and bodies occupied and healthy.
Many of our students took up new hobbies to ward off the negative energy that came with the pandemic. We caught up with two of them – Benjamin and Mary – to learn more about how they took care of their mental health during their time in lockdown.
Benjamin is a fourth-year student at St Paul’s University pursuing a degree in Computer Science. He has been part of Moja Tu for five years; his father passed on when he was in primary school and from then on, he relied on well-wishers, including Dream Children’s Home for help with survival and getting his education. It was at Dream Children’s Home that Benjamin would meet the president and co-founder of Moja Tu, Kathy Kempff. Kathy saw his potential and did not hesitate to bring him into the program.
During the pandemic, Benjamin was mostly indoors on his laptop sharpening his coding skills and working on several projects. However, relearning how to play the piano gave him some respite and joy in the midst of the gloom.
“I love listening to music and this is what inspired me to start picking up piano again. I have a friend who usually lends me his keyboard and I practice with YouTube tutorials and videos,” he tells us.
Benjamin reveals he learned how to play the piano early on in life, but he lost the skill along the way due to lack of practice. At the height of quarantine and lockdown, he turned to his childhood hobby to help him ease the uncertainty and tension that came with the pandemic.
“In the process, I learned to be patient and optimistic,” he says, “I also learned that even during tough situations, one can still choose to be happy by doing what they love.”
Mary has been part of Moja Tu for six years. She joined Moja Tu in class 8 as a bright young woman living at a nearby children’s home. Her mother is a single parent and could not afford to pay her school fees and at the same time provide for her and her siblings. Recently, Mary finished her diploma course in Tourism Management at Zetech University. She is looking forward to finding a job in Kenya’s vibrant tourism industry.
In the early days of the pandemic, Mary decided to learn how to style hair to keep herself busy. She has always been interested in hairdressing but had never found time to learn it. The pandemic offered her a great opportunity to indulge in the art. She approached the staff at a salon in her neighborhood and they agreed to show her the ropes of hairdressing.
The hairdressing lessons, Mary admits, came with additional life lessons. “I have learned that one should appreciate everyone and always be kind. I also learned to be patient with the learning process.”
The new hobby helps Mary to keep herself busy and helps the young girls she has been plaiting feel beautiful and confident. Mary says she is looking forward to learning more styles and teaching her friends the art since it puts a smile on the people’s faces. As they say, look good, feel good!