T+L reader and photojournalist Meghna Thakur, who is currently residing in Mtwara, Tanzania to work on a documentary, shares her first-hand experience of living in the African country under lockdown. This is what she has to say about life under lockdown there. By Bayar Jain
1. When did you move to Mtwara, Tanzania?
I have been travelling between Tanzania and India for the last six years.
2. What were your first thoughts when the lockdown was put in motion?
Initially, I had to get back to New Delhi on March 26, but due to the current situation, I decided to stay back until things got better. At that point, I was honestly a little worried and stopped all my work.
3. Tell us about the ground reality that you are witnessing there during the lockdown. Are there any challenges that you are facing?
There isn’t complete lockdown in Tanzania, and people have been taking extra precautions. We ‘leg shake’ and do namaste these days. The beaches were closed for three days during Easter to avoid the spread. However, the markets are well managed and there are arrangements to wash hands everywhere, including small vendors!
4. How is the government handling the pandemic? What regulations have they implemented there?
The country has banned international flights and closed major public gatherings. All the hotels in the major cities, including the whole Zanzibar Island, is closed. Schools and colleges have been shut since the first day the pandemic entered the country.
5. Are people allowed to step outdoors at a certain time?
Since Mtwara is a less crowded town, people are allowed to step outside. They are encouraged to follow social distancing and are informed about the precautions to follow. There are announcements over speakers and radio as well. However, if anyone has travelled to the country from outside, they are quarantined for two weeks.
6. Where would you like to travel to once this situation settles down?
I have always wanted to visit the European countries, and hopefully, when we get through this together, I will go on a trip there.
7. Anything you would like to say to your fellow T+L India & South Asia readers to help them get through these tough times?
Sending all of you love and light; together we will get through this!