Opinion

Coronavirus interrupts my academic journey

By Malek Arol Dhieu

Having calculated my years of completion from the university, I held my breath in order to gain momentum and started with maximum concentration and focus so as to make sure I become failure-proof. Securing a wife and a steadfast sponsor so that issues to do with disturbances of girlfriends and money, respectively are not my problem, I told myself, after being admitted at the University of Juba, School of Medicine in 2015, that I must graduate in 2021. Years before 2019 went as planned, but in late 2019, an outbreak of Coronavirus emerged in a very far country that nobody expected it to reach South Sudan. In three months’ time, the WHO declared the virus pandemic, having a worldwide distribution and each country began suspecting to have a case or so soon. On Sunday, 5th April 2020, South Sudan recorded the first case and that was immediately followed by the formation of the National Taskforce Committee on Coronavirus, firstly chaired by H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit. But the committee was later reconstituted following a call from H.E the President that politicians need to step back and allow technicians to devise workable ways to overcome the virus, and H.E HussienAbdelbagiAkol, the Vice President for Service Cluster was made the chair of the committee. As one of the ways of curbing the pandemic, the committee imposed lockdown, closing churches, schools, markets, travels and universities. The closure of the universities sounded like an acid to me and to any student whose journey looks like mine. I tried criticizing and becoming part of the subcommittees in order to have my concern that ‘Coronavirus came to stay with us’ heard but I was not listened to. God works in strange ways, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba cut his teeth to form High and Sub-technical committees in which I happened to be a member following an understanding that I am the concerned chairperson among the 12, and that, I should be the link between the students and the University Administration. When the National Taskforce Committee heard of this, it requested two representatives from the University, which we responded to positively by giving them Prof. John Akech and Dr. Moses Tiel. Having conducted several meetings, we came out with a proposal of how to rein in the virus by dividing Juba City in to five zones in an attempt to initiate mass testing, when we submitted this proposal, its status up to now is not known. Looked in to it that the victims at the end of the day are students and patients are even quarantined in their own houses, we wrote 4 plans of reopening the university with COVID-19 protocols adhered to. Each plan has its own nature. We submitted these plans and after a long debate with the Taskforce, the university was conditionally allowed to reopen. During this struggle, one year has already gone. When we started lectures at the university, we told ourselves we should have been in a different class by now if it were not because of this merciless virus. It is not me alone, to whoever whose dream is interrupted by COVID-19, your dream is still intact; all you need to do is to invigorate yourselfand resume chasing it fresh. I know a lot of dreams are interrupted by COVID-19, ranging from dreams interrupted at hand to dreams interrupted planned to be achieved within the years that coincided with the emergence of COVID-19. A strong advice to take is that it has affected all people worldwide, including those people whom you want to emulate yourself with.  However, in every disaster, there must be beneficiaries benefiting from it, and that should not be the point of killing yourself with worries.

The author is a medical student, University of Juba.He can be reached at malengaroldit@gmail.com or +211922332811.

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