I believe that the path to recovery from the coronavirus will be difficult, but above all we must show humanity and solidarity
This story is part of the United Nations in BiH series of personal accounts highlighting extraordinary work during COVID-19 response and recovery; marking UN75.
I arrived to BiH in 1999 as a football player, based on the recommendation of my compatriot, former football player of FC Sarajevo, Jean Louis Nouken. Upon ending my football career in 2003, political circumstances in Cameroon, my homeland, forced me to seek asylum in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I had opportunities to live in other European countries, but I fell in love particularly with this one. People often say how it doesn't matter where you you are; it matters more how you feel being there, and that’s how I found my new home here. Ever since, I have been passing on my experience to others in need of safety, working as a coordinator of sports activities for children and youth at reception centers in Sarajevo with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Women's Initiative Foundation - BHWI, UNHCR's partner in BiH.
Just like for everyone else, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted my daily life and my everyday interaction with asylum-seeking children. I had to figure out a way to continue the activities in the centers, because I knew that this situation, especially for children who have already gone through traumatic experiences, will affect their mental state, and that they should be involved in occupation activites as soon as possible.
During our trainings, children abide to all protection measures – they have masks, gloves and physical contact is treated as a serious faul. I do admit that it can be hard to work with children because you must have charisma if you want them to follow the instructions, but I am lucky enough to possess one such charisma.
However, it's extremely hard to deal with the situation, especially when you're trapped between four walls, thus I try to make children happy, at least on the days when they are outdoors play sports. Sometimes I give them a reward; they get chocolate or biscuits and that's what motivates them and makes them happy. I often play them music, and then we dance together. Yet, I am somewhat disappointed that people in general are less and less respecting measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Health is the most important thing, no one will feel too bad if they do not drink coffee with the friends or even miss going for a vacation for one summer, but one coffee in this situation can cost someone their life - people must keep that in mind.
I believe that the path to recovery will be difficult, but everyone must work together and, above all, show humanity and solidarity. Seventeen years ago I was in a situation where I needed help and protection, and people helped me, so I always try to help others whenever I have the opportunity. That is the only way to overcome this and make the world a better place.