It’s been over a month into the lockdown and my family and I have settled into our new normal.

My home is in Khayelitsha, Western Cape. These pictures illustrate how we as the Matshoba household have adapted to life under lockdown. The coronavirus pandemic has forced the entire country, and the world over, to adapt to a new reality where isolation and social distancing has become a  new way of life. For my parents it has  changed how they run their businesses, my mom has had to take on a different trade, while my stepdad has had to adapt to new ways of operating his. For my sister and I the lockdown has meant adapting to new ways of learning, both academically and socially. 

Since level 4 of the lockdown was implemented on Friday May 1, my street sees more of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. More people are going to work, children playing in the streets, taxis are sounding their hooters drawing out customers. For most people in my community, the easing of lockdown restrictions to level 4 has brought much-needed relief.

Being at home for this long at this time of the year is so strange to me. Normally I would be at residence, in the thick of the academic year preparing for mid-year exams. This lockdown has forced me to take time out and appreciate the time I have with my family. Now I get to sit out on the veranda and enjoy a crisp, quiet morning. The last time I remember my street being this peaceful, was on Christmas morning, two years ago.

My mom (50), who ran a laundry business pre-lockdown has had to close her shop and find another way to earn a living. She has since tapped into her sewing abilities, which was just a hobby pre-lockdown, and is now making and selling face masks. “At first when I had to close my business I was really stressed, but since I started making masks, I’m relieved. I’m so glad I learned this skill of sewing last year,” she says.

My stepdad (50), who owns a hardware business that makes aluminium doors, windows and gates, has not changed much. He still enjoys his reading time saying, “reading is my escape, I don’t care if I am happy or stressed, I always find something to read.” Since receiving a permit to reopen his business, he has gone back to reading motivational business books which are his favourite. 

My stepdad had to make some changes to how his business operates though. He had to draw up a shift schedule where there is only one person, out of four employees, coming in to work. This is because the business operates from our garage and that space doesn’t allow for safe operations. Unathi Runeli (26), who works with my stepdad specialises in making doors. He says, “I’m happy to be working again, I was tired of watching TV, I was starting to feel like it was watching me more than I was watching it.”

Working from home has been bliss for my sister (13), who is currently in grade 7. She no longer has to wake up at dawn to get to school on time. She now gets to wake up at 8, three hours later than she would have pre-lockdown. Excited to go to high school next year, she makes sure to stick to her work schedule and attend all her online classes. “I’m really excited for high school, I can’t wait to start this new chapter,” she says. Her positive outlook and persevering spirit make the challenges presented by the lockdown a little easier to bear.

FEATURED IMAGE: For most people in my community, the easing of lockdown restrictions to level 4 has brought much-needed relief. Photo: Akhona Matshoba