‘Young people are the forgotten victims of the pandemic'

In March last year, a generation of young people were thrown into turmoil. Their education in jeopardy, future uncertain and lives filled with trauma. We must recognise the social, mental and financial consequences that will bear on our young people for years.

Many will sharply remember the disheartening exam fiasco in the summer, as we came to the realisation that the once formidable message, ‘if you work hard, you will get the results you wish for’, petered away, vanishing beyond sight. Our incline of hope, or as some would now call delusion, allowed us to believe that only one year would suffer that pain, but least did we know that yet again we may face the same this summer.

In September, many of us joyfully returned to school, longing to enter the classrooms once again. To share our time with friends, seeking a light back to some form of normality. But as time aged on, the tide of the virus turned sour, culminating in the shutting of schools once again at the beginning of the year.

I mean not to take away anything from the real victims of this pandemic, those that lost their lives or saw their loved ones disappear from their arms. I mean not to complain for the sake of it,heeding nothing to the unprecedented reality of our situation. I mean not to blame any single person or government. I am simply here to plea with you, to recognise that the generation that is one day to take the reins, have suffered.

I count myself relatively lucky, privileged with the situation that I find myself in. But for many, they can not claim the same. For the many who sought safety in school or extra curricular activities, they now live their greatest and most destructive nightmare. For the many who did not receive the results they deserved, that did not go to the University that does justice to merit them, they see their lives in turbulence for no fault of their own. For the children, starving as they are insufficiently fed, knowing that their government cares little about their stomachs; who without the heroism of a professional footballer and the campaigning of others, may have suffered in silence throughout their Christmas holiday.

There is no doubt that decisions were made by the government that were hard, but necessary. I still however believe that there was a level of negligence and incompetence that further ingrained us in the colossal mess that we find ourselves in today. Decisions were taken, and decisions have consequences, both in the long and short term. The attitude that our government and other governments had speaks loud to their lack of solicitude and cooperation.

But this is not about one single government, or the decisions of a few. This is about the society we live in. This is about understanding and comprehending what we have gone through.

It is also about recognising that we have a duty to learn from this, to understand that as much as we seek individual freedoms, compassion for others is vital. It's about recognising what we place value in. Is it the materialistic items, or the joyful and simple pleasures that we took for granted for so long? We must never forget the suffering that was endured. Because if we do, we risk creating a cold and unsympathetic society. It is of the utmost importance that the next time we deal with the grave issues of our age, we ensure that our institutions hold the fruits of compassion and care, so that no other generation has to become victims to another crisis.