“Our World Is Shaking Because of Corona”: Intersecting Crises and Disrupted Life Transitions among Young People in Ethiopia and Jordan Pre- and Post-COVID-19
1.1. Context: Ethiopia
1.2. Context: Jordan
1.3. State of Research Field
2. Materials and Methods
3.1. Gender, Mobility and Family
Everyone was worried but males tend to go out and meet with friends whereas females often stay at home to help with chores at home. Females have a higher workload at home than males… Even if she goes out to work, when she comes home she will still have another job to do. She has no break. Males also have jobs but at least they rest when they return home.
Not a lot changed in my life [since the pandemic]. I used to stay home with my daughter and husband. I stay and help my sister-in-law with cooking and I take care of my daughter. I rarely visit people. But now I have not left the house for a month and a half… I am obliged to stay home and this is not my choice. I cannot even go to the doctor. This annoys me the most.
I have discussed with them [my parents] a lot about not wanting to get married yet, but it is useless. My father tells me “There is nothing left of my life” except to see his daughter safely married. But I am still young and I have not lived my life yet… However, I am their only daughter … They do not listen to me—even during the pandemic I am subject to this nagging.
I used to wake up at 7 a.m., go to work and return at 4 pm, have some lunch and rest, and then be allowed to go out with my friends in the evening… But during the lockdown I was with my family all the time and I felt suffocated. During the partial curfew I feel a bit more relaxed as I can meet some friends… I spend the night sitting on the roof of the house until morning with other youth, playing cards and drinking tea. I got to know these neighbours during the lockdown.
3.2. Truncated Education and Work Opportunities
They [my friends] say that wealth is like a dew. If our families had supported our education we could have a good position by now. But because they did not teach us, we are still living as if in a village. And we feel bad about it… My friends are very sad because of my fate [early marriage]. They say they were expecting me to be working in a good office or to become a judge… When they tell me this, I remember my diligence for my education and the desire I have now for learning and when I compare it with my current situation, I get very upset. I am psychologically tormented when they tell me that.
She was 13 years old and was pulled out of school… She ran away from home as she did not want to get married so young. She begged her family but they were not persuaded… She sheltered at my friend’s house and told us she was thinking to commit suicide. I asked my family to interfere but they [her family] said please do not interfere, she is our daughter… Now she stands by the window and thinks of suicide. She does not leave the house… she has a psychological illness.
In the morning we go to our spot where we wait for people with jobs to approach us. If we get lucky we go to work. If not, we return home and do chores… Daily labourer jobs in construction sites… it could be anything… If not I do the chores at the house or help out neighbours with little payment. It is mainly baking injera [traditional flat bread]… I get 20 to 30 birr [$0.50 to $0.70].
For the first four years when I came here, I had no work at all. I used to sit and stay at home… I had competed for a position of janitor. I took the test and was expecting to start the job. But they rejected me, claiming that I am not from here. They hire their own relatives and clan. They also take the bribe to hire someone. So they said we did not give them a bribe and I was not from here.
When I came here [from my village] I started working straight away. When working as full-time help, you don’t have to worry about house rent. But because you have nowhere to go, the employers will abuse you by giving you lots of work. At one household I worked for one year and six months. I made some savings from working there, I was first hired with 300 birr per month and I knew it was a very small amount because people used to tell me that it is very small. But with no networks and with both my parents having passed away, I had no option.
I don’t have anything, I live in a rented house and I am raising my kids by selling cabbage…
I used to work for people, baking injera, washing clothes as a daily help. I decided that it would be better for me to do my small business instead of working for other people, and started selling this at the market… I got the money from the saving that I made from working as a daily help.
My older brother is responsible for household expenses and my mother… But they are unemployed now. They don’t find a job in the camp, although my brother used to work outside the camp but not anymore. He is unemployed… Lack of money affects us, as we are no longer able to meet our basic needs... And for me, no one even entertains the idea that I might work.
Before COVID, I could at least borrow money from others, but during the pandemic, I didn’t even have access to the people who would lend me the money. People were staying at home… Initially I stayed at home but the stress was too intense so I decided to go out and at least work, I said to myself if it [corona] is going to kill, then it should; I can’t wait for death here.
Prices of vegetables increased dramatically, the price of a kilo of potatoes become 2 dinars, and the price of a kilo of cucumbers is 2.5 dinars… We used to be able to buy a kilo of vegetables for half a dinar… Fruit we no longer buy since the lockdown.
We are living 14 relatives in one house… Three of my brothers used to work before the corona crisis but now there is no work in cafes… We started to borrow money from relatives. Money goes for food…We used to recharge the credit on our phones but now only one can recharge his credit.
3.3. Coping with Immobility
I have spent more time with my family during the lockdown but the communication and the relationship with them has not improved… And with my friends I have become totally disconnected from them… I have no communication. Not with school friends. Not with neighbours… rarely I contact them using my dad’s phone. Before corona, I used to meet them in the school and see them daily.
We used to go to school every day and see our friends and say hi to them and sit with them, see the teachers, see people and our neighbours. Now, we are alone, we can’t see anybody, and nobody can see us, so we feel nostalgia for our relatives, friends and school.
It is a problem for all people, our world is shaken because of corona. We do not study together, we are told to keep distance. We discuss with friends about education by phone but we do not come close to each other. We are far from friends because of COVID… We do not shake hands, we keep our distance, we are afraid of corona.
I have missed lots of things due to the emergency. Most importantly, I was separated from my friends from school. That’s the main thing I’ve missed. And now I don’t have friends as they have moved to other areas in search of work.
Most people used to like staying at home before, but obligating people to stay at home for extended periods is really hard. I tell myself that I need a psychiatrist after this crisis as there is real and significant stress. We should focus on the social support after the end for people who were subjected to that…
I was not able to do anything [during the state of emergency]. I was not able to think anything and was terrified as everyone talked about the fear of COVID-19. I was not able to think and I used to be like a dead body.
It was a very tough time. I don’t have words to tell you about that… People in Dire Dawa have a communal life. We socialise with people very much. It is not like Addis Ababa. So it was very tough for me to stay at home and not to meet others. I cannot go out of the house. I used to stay at home. I didn’t want my family to worry about me so I preferred to stay home… but we are used to hugging each other and showing our concern to each other… I haven’t met my friends at all during corona.
He is very worried about corona. He is very much afraid… he does not shake hands with anyone and he disinfects his hands all the time. He also washes his body twice a day… He tells me that it causes death to shake hands… as the virus can be transmitted through touching. He knows better than non-disabled boys… But he is more anxious than his brothers and sisters. He shouts a lot. He is stressed. He is used to going outside the home…
When the schools closed, many adolescents were doing nothing. They just isolated themselves hoping that school would reopen again. Some couldn’t work as they were under such stress… and some turned to addictions, like smoking, chewing khat, drinking alcohol.
When males get angry they might get involved in addictions like drinking, smoking, or chewing khat, which gives them short-term relief, and there are also some females who do the same as a coping mechanism. In my view this would appear to be an absence of listening to one’s inner feelings… You need to think critically before taking such actions… and then you can share with someone. It is helpful to identify the good and bad options to decide about your future.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
The national census was last conducted in 2007, and although it was due to be collected in 2017, it has been repeatedly postponed on account of political unrest.
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Jones, N.; Pincock, K.; Alheiwidi, S.; Yadete, W. “Our World Is Shaking Because of Corona”: Intersecting Crises and Disrupted Life Transitions among Young People in Ethiopia and Jordan Pre- and Post-COVID-19. Soc. Sci. 2021, 10, 470. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10120470
Jones N, Pincock K, Alheiwidi S, Yadete W. “Our World Is Shaking Because of Corona”: Intersecting Crises and Disrupted Life Transitions among Young People in Ethiopia and Jordan Pre- and Post-COVID-19. Social Sciences. 2021; 10(12):470. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10120470Chicago/Turabian Style
Jones, Nicola, Kate Pincock, Sarah Alheiwidi, and Workneh Yadete. 2021. "“Our World Is Shaking Because of Corona”: Intersecting Crises and Disrupted Life Transitions among Young People in Ethiopia and Jordan Pre- and Post-COVID-19" Social Sciences 10, no. 12: 470. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10120470