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‘Inside we stayed for months and days’- the COVID-19 pandemic through the eyes of a child

Written by Nompilo Gwala

The global pandemic brought distress for everyone around the world, yet children were overlooked. Now, a young South African author has published a book, penning the COVID-19 pandemic from a child’s perspective.

Laena-Mae Turner hasn’t seen another child or person, except her mother, since February 2020.

Turner was just a few days old when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening autoimmune disease hypogammaglobulinemia. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 meant that she was in isolation for more than a year due to her illness. So the eight-year-old wrote a to cheer herself up, and the thousands of other children stuck inside during the lockdown.

“I wanted to write a book for all the children across the world that would make them realise that no matter how lonely it is to be stuck at home, that we are all so brave to live in this new world,” said Turner.

The illustrated book is snapshot of COVID-19 through a child’s eyes. Titled Inside We Stayed for Months and Days, Turner wrote and art-directed the book herself, with illustrations by Simon de Ruyck.

COVID-19 from a child’s eye

Turner is now the youngest author in the world with a book published on the COVID-19 pandemic. With her book, she is creating a global community for the children of the world to share their own lockdown experiences. The young storyteller wrote the book because she felt no one worried about children during the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“So many grownups wrote books about the lockdowns, but no one asked the kids how we were feeling or let us speak,” explained Turner.

The young author, together with the publisher of her book, Miss Mae Books, in partnership with Braille Media, will be launching a second new book titled Inside: The Voices of the Lockdown Generation. This work will showcase the voices of 100 children around the world.

“We received so many letters, notes and videos from children all over the world, after they heard her story and read her book,” said her mother, Candice Turner.

“In February this year, after we sat sorting through the letters, drawings and notes, we realised how many children had their own stories to share,” said Candice. “It was at this moment Laena-Mae turned to me and said she wanted to give them all the chance to share their story, just as she had. And so, the concept of a global community and time-capsule of the pandemic, from a child’s perspective, was born.”

Safe space for children’s stories

Along with the book, Turner and her publishers have also launched an online platform. The site, www.insidewestayed.com, will be a safe space where children’s unique lockdown experiences can be showcased so that the impact on kids is more fully explored.

(Miss Mae Books)

“I wanted to create a place the children of the world can share their own lockdown stories and experiences so that they can feel that they are heard and see that we are all in this together,” said the young author.

The book is available on Amazon in South Africa and in regions around the world. In South Africa, a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the SOS Children’s Villages, toward their COVID-19 intervention.

SOS Children’s Villages support children across the country. Their COVID-19 appeal calls on the global community to help support families provide the necessary care and protection of children to overcome the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.— Health-e News

About the author

Nompilo Gwala