The Prisma’s series. A Colombian who has spent nearly three decades living in the United Kingdom, Nelly Mosquera is an activist and has worked with vulnerable populations and in community radio. Not only has she faced her own pain and that of her country, but also the pain of her community. She is part of the high-risk group and is afraid of dying but has reinvented herself during quarantine. Nelly tells us about her experience.
“I was relaxed when I first heard, when this was barely an epidemic, because there had been others and they had affected me very little or not at all. But as I listened to the news from the countries already impacted by the virus I began to worry, to ask myself what would happen if it reached us here in the United Kingdom.
Seeing the tragedy that was beginning to overrun Italy, Spain and other European countries, I decided to self-isolate, despite not having symptoms of the virus.
I was very concerned because of my health problems, which had weakened my immune system and made me an easy target for the virus if I continued my normal pace of life, as I regularly met up with lots of people. I went into quarantine a week before the British government ordered lockdown.
As time passed and I heard the National Health Service recommendations, my concerns increased, as they said that those over 60 with vulnerable immune systems were more prone to infection. I was on that list – because of my age and because in 1994, due to leukaemia, I had a bone marrow transplant treatment that I still have today. Those first two weeks of quarantine, I was scared and anxious.
The lockdown has been very difficult for me; my sense of solidarity and support for the community, but also my fear of staying home alone, have made me the person that everybody knows – I am always taking part in different organisations’ work or activities.
But like everyone, I’ve had to pause my activities. However, as the days passed, I became more used to this new situation.
I started having virtual meetings with immigrant groups and organisations in the United Kingdom and Europe and this has helped me to be relaxed. It’s surprising how the mind and body adapt, no matter how difficult the situation.
We must learn to live in the present and remain calm about our people in our country of origin. I believe that this is the most difficult part of being an emigrant, because in my country, for example, governmental support and the health system do not favour people with low incomes.
Over the years, I have witnessed many collective and individual tragedies. The worst and the longest has been the violence in Colombia, and it is still not over. This is the very reason I find myself living in London.
The coronavirus has been the worst epidemic I have seen or experienced. Obviously, there are some differences regarding the number of deaths, geography, official coverage, and of course, the terrifying consequences of war, which we know and we face. But the overall toll of coronavirus remains to be seen.
I want to tell the immigrant community that these experiences are not only anecdotes, that when I drink five different drinks from the thousands recommended by social media or friends, I am simply fleeing death.
That when I stay at home, and in quarantine for a month and a half, even long before the government announced it, I do so for the love of life, my family and humanity.
Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Nelly Mosquera Facebook y Pixabay