Remembering life before COVID-19, Pascal recalls how he and his mother, Esther, looked forward to every Saturday — the day Pascal attended the Compassion center. Esther worked as a cook at the center, so she and 11-year-old Pascal would get ready and go together.
Sadly, when COVID-19 caused centers across Tanzania to close, Esther and Pascal faced six months of Saturdays alone at home. Their family income plunged as Pascal’s father’s business was also impacted. "Cooking at the center was the only job I had," says Esther. "When the center closed on March 28, I didn't know what to do."
She didn’t need to worry for long because the center staff stepped in, giving the family baskets of food and essentials. They also provided sanitary items and taught them about safe hygiene practices and disease prevention.
"The supplies that we were given helped us immensely. We had food to last us weeks, so instead of paying for food, my husband and I used his income to pay our rent," says Esther.
On Sept. 5, Esther and Pascal finally went back to their regular Saturday routine. Esther woke up early and prepared herself and Pascal to go to the center. "I am so happy to be back. I had missed learning and seeing all my friends," says Pascal.
The center had undergone some upgrades so that the children would be protected from transmission of the virus. Two more classrooms were added to allow for social distancing, bringing the total to eight. Compassion Tanzania was able to fund the purchase of new desks. And the children get temperature checks before entering.
While Pascal attends his classes, his mother prepares food for the children. "I was praying every day for the center to reopen," says Esther. "I am overjoyed that God has answered my prayers. I didn't know how to help my husband earn enough to feed our son, but now we have hope."