The COVID-19 pandemic has separated us, however sharing tales about how members of the campus neighborhood have been surviving — and even thriving — since final spring may also help draw us collectively. Berkeley Information is gathering inspiring private tales of heartache and triumph associated to the coronavirus and can run them periodically within the coming weeks. For those who’d wish to pitch us your story, ship a quick electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story is from pupil and Berkeley NavCal Scholar Kelly Figueroa.
Rising up, I all the time felt just like the underdog of the household.
My mom and father immigrated to Los Angeles from Honduras within the late 1990s after 1000’s of individuals have been killed and displaced after Hurricane Mitch hit their dwelling nation. Me, my older sister and youthful brother have been all born in L.A. and grew up within the Boyle Heights neighborhood.
However once I was 8, my father was deported again to Honduras. That left my mother to boost the three of us alone.
We lived in Estrada Courts Part Eight housing my complete life. My mother would work lengthy hours, six days every week cleansing homes in high-end neighborhoods, like Malibu and Bel Air. She was hardly ever dwelling due to that, so my older sister — who was simply in center faculty — actually took on a variety of the family obligations to ensure my brother and I have been nicely taken care of.
As a baby, I keep in mind pondering I used to be silly. My uncles would typically name me dumb and clumsy and would say issues like, ‘She’s going to finish up getting pregnant.’ It didn’t actually make me really feel like a valued member of the household.
After I wasn’t dwelling, my mother all the time thought I used to be hanging out with boys on a regular basis. However I used to be actually doing a variety of neighborhood activism in my neighborhood and college.
So, when my highschool held Senior Awards Evening, I begged my mother to come back with me. I wished her to grasp all of the work I had performed. That night time, I acquired seven awards round civic dedication. And by the fourth award, my mother wouldn’t let me stand up to get the award. She knelt down in entrance of me and she or he held my palms: She was crying.
She stated she was sorry for not believing me, and she or he was sorry for accusing me once I actually was out serving to the neighborhood. After that night time, my mom trusted me, and she or he inspired my faculty actions and neighborhood work: I felt valued and acknowledged.
When it got here to my household, I all the time thought that we shouldn’t be struggling. It shouldn’t be so laborious to have the ability to attain a life above poverty.
As soon as I graduated highschool, I went to neighborhood school, however I started working a full-time job to assist pay payments and hire for the household. There was a unique type of respect my mom had for me after that. I type of postpone going again to highschool — till 2017, once I began to attend East Los Angeles School, the place I majored in political science and in addition labored part-time as an English tutor.
At the moment, everybody in our family was working a service job. So, when the pandemic started, COVID-19 hit my household.
My sister was working at a financial institution and was uncovered in Might. I keep in mind, as a result of it was finals week, and I used to be about to present a digital class presentation. Thirty seconds earlier than the presentation, my little brother comes as much as me crying, saying, ‘Christel has COVID. If she dies, I’m going to kill myself!’
He couldn’t think about residing with out us.
It was horrible, however I simply went into flight-or-fight mode and stated, ‘It’s good to calm down. I’ve to complete this remaining. We’ll speak after this.” However my mother and my brother started crying collectively within the kitchen. As I used to be about to begin my presentation, I needed to inform my professor to present me a minute. I stepped away from the pc and advised my brother, ‘It’s good to get your s— collectively and calm down. I’ve a presentation to do. We are going to discuss this proper after. She’s not going to die. She’s going to be OK.’
After the presentation, we talked and saved my sister quarantined in a bed room. I might prepare dinner and produce her meals and something she wanted, to maintain her away from my mother and brother. This was laborious, as a result of we lived in a small two-bedroom unit.
I began to note my mother — who has all the time had points with melancholy — begin to get actually depressed. She was not sleeping or consuming. A day after we discovered my sister had COVID-19, I advised her to go lay down within the different room: We quickly discovered that she had COVID-19, too.
Whereas my sister had gentle signs, my mother was 56 years outdated, and issues bought actually unhealthy for her. She had a extreme lung an infection. She needed to get handled for it and had a near-death expertise. All of us have been actually afraid of shedding her.
However I knew we needed to push by way of.
I used to be working part-time whereas going to highschool, however I attempted my greatest to proceed to prepare dinner and clear for all of them. I saved my mother within the different room we had, and me and my brother would sleep on the lounge ground.
It was every week or so in that I additionally examined constructive. Fortunately, I used to be asymptomatic, so I may proceed to operate usually and maintain my mom and sister, whereas making an attempt my greatest to maintain my brother from getting COVID.
I might sleep going through away from him with a towel over my face in order that I wouldn’t breathe on him. Nevertheless it was all the time laborious for me, as a result of at any time when my mom or sister wanted something, I might get up and assist out. And likewise, as a result of my mother was experiencing extreme signs, I all the time was scared that issues would worsen for her. That perhaps I might go in her room, and she or he can be lifeless.
It bought to the purpose the place any sound within the night time woke me and my brother up. It was insane.
I used to be making an attempt to juggle so many issues on the similar time: cooking, cleansing and nursing everyone again to well being, whereas additionally taking good care of faculty. However I actually had the assist of my youthful brother, accomplice, family and friends when going by way of this. My accomplice and mates would drop groceries at our entrance door and even give me recommendation.
After a couple of months, we bought to the purpose the place all of us had recovered and examined damaging. Actually, one factor that I’m proudest of is that my brother didn’t get contaminated with COVID-19. He has examined damaging each time: I used to be capable of hold him protected and wholesome.
My mother’s near-death expertise additionally introduced all of us nearer collectively. My siblings and I’ve by no means been as afraid of shedding her as we did when COVID hit: My mother is my world. Having the ability to look after her throughout the pandemic additionally helped our relationship to develop.
Quickly after, I used to be accepted as a switch pupil to Berkeley, majoring in political economic system. I began taking courses final summer time. It actually was a dream come true. However as I began courses, I started to get random panic assaults and expertise nervousness on a regular basis. My palms would sweat, and my coronary heart would race: One thing was incorrect, however I had no concept what it was.
I talked to a physician, who gave me medicine to assist me sleep.
As a pupil in Berkeley’s NavCal program, I used to be launched to the campus Counseling and Psychological Services office. After speaking to a counselor, I used to be recognized with post-traumatic stress dysfunction and melancholy. I hadn’t realized that my household’s expertise with COVID-19 was so traumatic for me.
I needed to keep robust that complete time and by no means gave myself time to cope with the state of affairs in a mentally wholesome manner.
NavCal really made me feel comfortable reaching out for that assist that I actually wanted. After I used to be recognized, additionally they walked me by way of the method to join campus lodging for my psychological disabilities.
I hope folks perceive how essential it’s to succeed in out for assist when you may throughout this pandemic, as a result of for me — it has been life-changing.
I really feel like NavCal has supplied a assist system and has allowed me to current myself in each campus area as my true and real self. Proper now, I’m doing a venture with different ladies of shade. We’re researching how COVID-19 has affected the educational environments of low-income college students.
I’ve been capable of join my expertise with COVID-19 to this analysis. I needed to create a studying surroundings at dwelling with no desk, a chair to sit down on or any type of studying area at dwelling whereas caring for my complete household. I really feel like a variety of minorities are going by way of related experiences and are usually not geared up to take action.
This expertise has helped me to grasp the trauma I’ve gone by way of and to make use of that have to assist folks going by way of the identical challenges.
I notice now the worth that I can carry to any state of affairs and the way it can mend relationships. That motivates me to need to proceed to make a distinction in my neighborhood, for myself and my household. With love.