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Diaspora attacked by covid and loneliness in lockdown times

06 Feb 2021 at 14:05hrs | Views
Imagine a day in your life or is it going to be every day of your remaining life?. You are now stuck in a room and the pace of life has slowed. You get up early in the morning and sit in your favorite chair with a cup of coffee. The house is still and silent. No one is there but you and God and your thoughts. The News flashes the number of the dead from this war with CORONA. The casualties are knee shaking.

On this morning, instead of thinking about the day's activities, you begin to reflect upon the past.  How I should have visited my parents my friends my relatives. You see family vacations, times with your spouse, holidays spent with relatives and opportunities lost where you could have been with your friends. You have memories of life, both rewarding and painful. It hasn't always been easy, and not everything turned out like you hoped, but it's been a good life.

Today one thought especially encourages you and brings a smile to your face. You are grateful to God that you took time to develop a handful of deep friendships. You realize that on life's balance sheet, possessing cars, houses, and toys doesn't add up to much. On this day all the cars are parked outside. There is nowhere to drive to. But a real friendship is of high value. It's the stuff life is made of.

The truth is those of us in diaspora  often don't do the friendship thing very well. One survey among Zimbabweans in Diaspora found that 70 percent do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.  "Most Zimbabwean in Diaspora are people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships." What an indictment.
Before the lock down we have always had a lot of acquaintances. Our relational circle was wide but not very deep.

Somewhere along the way in out life experience we get it in our heads that you can't (and shouldn't) have close friends in your Diaspora.  Even members from church you don't want to be accused of partiality by hanging out with some members more than others. And, besides, you don't want to let people peer too closely into your life and family. They might discover you don't have it all together.

So, for the few years in Diaspora we learnt how to navigate in the foreign land by keeping everyone at a safe emotional distance. We lived in denial of any deep relational needs We had. We were quite content to skim relationally and focus on building our lives back home in Zimbabwe. Then Boom CORONA comes.

Longings we had suppressed began to come to the surface. There is something missing, and we began to feel it. We begin to have thoughts like, God made me a person before he made me a friend. And, as persons he made us to live in community. We got to where We just didn't care what other people thought. We knew We had to go deeper in a few relationships, no matter how it was perceived.

During this season God brought into our lives times to be alone and search deeper the meaning of life in Diaspora. We have tried as individuals to to forget about home and concentrate on the UK. As this thought began to develop, we were thrown into isolation. Our children will always stay in their rooms. You only see them coming to respond to hunger but they are as good as they are not there. You realise that with our children of today you never drift into deep friendship.

Being in Lockdown away from home is a pain every Diaspora will endure.
A FRIEND of mine, Ronald Sabelo Mabuza, a celebrated Swazi lawyer who is lodged permanently in South Africa, used to recite this passage from The Thorn Bird by Colleen McCullough:
"There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth.

From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine.

And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale.
One superlative song, existence the price.But the whole world stills to listen and God in His heaven smiles.For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain…Or so says the legend."

The saddest times of one's life is when he/she is lonely in a foreign land.
One has to rise above the pains and suffering of foreign land to make it the following day.

One could be 10 minutes from the beach, with all the fresh fruit and vegetables and margaritas one would want, but still floating in the pool of misery.
The feeling of being lonely and vulnerable grows stronger everyday.

When people migrate, many think they are ready for the move and can face anything, but instead, they find themselves spending long afternoons in bed, holding back tears. The news of the dying is scaring will we ever fly home again to find relatives a-life.
What worsens the situation is that there is no one to trust and share the frustration with.
The beauty of a place does not brush away one's feelings of sadness or discomfort.
When we travel abroad, we often get pressured into pretending to love and gush over about everywhere we go and everything we see.

Everything we encounter is ‘breath-taking', ‘beautiful', and ‘rich in', but in reality the life abroad in this lockdown is sad, lonely and hard.

We should be able to talk about these issues, the challenges that come with living and working abroad in these times of lockdown.

Emotional intelligence and mental health is important for us all!
Those left back home wish to also go abroad while those abroad wish to go back home.
There is a popular saying: "Kusina mai hakuendwe," (never go where your mother is not).
The saying makes sense once you are abroad and you are surrounded by unseen but deadly virus.

You here about people dying in numbers back home. Whether it's true or not you are slapped with fear such was never felt before.
Basic things make you homesick.

The most terrible music you never imagined yourself listening to become anthems you hear everyday the prayers you do once a day now becomes daily bread.
Anything mentioning your home on TV will see you jump to record.
The loneliness then breeds a fatal depression and in most cases, many people suffer in silence and all alone.

One tries to be strong, but always behind the facade is a weak suffering person.
Many are breaking down, all alone and crying themselves to sleep.
Many people, seem to think international travel is a ‘break' from real life, a vacation.
However, being abroad doesn't mean real life stops, or everything is perfect, or that we are suddenly happy all the time.

"Life is difficult outside your comfort zone."
Peter Matereke from Southend in the UK said: "One learns quickly that a new place will not necessarily fix you or your life.

While, it might solve some problems, it also has many challenges.
"It is a challenging time, but I learned so much about myself. England does not make people; it simply reveals you." Commented Moris Mugari from High-fields in Leicestershire.

But the effects of Lockdown are so painful. It has taught us to search our hearts and come up with friends for life.

One of the most famous friendships in Scripture is that of David and Jonathan. At one point, Jonathan does something that feels awkward and uncomfortable for most men: "Jonathan made a special vow to be David's friend, and he sealed the pact by giving him his robe, tunic, sword, bow, and belt."  He made a "special vow." He declared his commitment to pursue the friendship. We just don't do that today. For most people we know and certainly for most men, this seems way too touchy-feely.

Nevertheless, if we are going to be spiritually and mentally healthy, we going to need an intimate friend or two who fully know us. Who will check on us in these times of COVID. WE need a deep friendship with someone who isn't impressed with me and who isn't afraid to tell me the truth. We need a handful of people who know the junk about us,who knows where we struggle, who knows the skeletons in our closet, and who love and accept us anyway. Someone who spews words of comfort words of hope that we are But by the rivers of Babylon. We will make it home one day.

This kind of friendship doesn't happen by accident. If you've got someone in your life you want to go deeper with, do what Jonathan did. Declare it! Life is too short and there is too much at stake for you to avoid this level of friendship.
It is hard to be alone and afraid in the land of others.

It is now that Diaspora seeks friends in them and around them. Inward find Jesus outward find a friend commented Dr pastor Chihwai a Seventh Day Adventist pastor in Hastings United Kingdom.

Vazet2000@yahoo.co.Uk

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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