Cameroon - Calgary
Art by Emily Honderich
Hermine Zebaze story
Hermine Zebaze is 37 years old and originally from Cameroon. She arrived in Calgary, Canada, in March 2014 to join her husband. She received her permanent residence in July 2016. She worked in a daycare and then began a specialized teaching assistant program. For the last two years, she has been working as a French-language monitor in primary schools. She is the mother of a 12-year-old boy and five and three-year-old girls.
On the 53 km trip to Okotoks, where the school I went to every morning was, I used to listen to the news on the radio. The number of cases of this unknown disease was increasing day by day. I remember the day when the first case was reported in Canada: I was so worried. It was in almost all discussions now. The day before the schools were declared closed, I was at church discussing this situation with a friend at the end of the church service. We were a few days away from spring break when the lockdown began.
A few days after the schools closed, I had symptoms of the disease. I remained in quarantine with my three children. Some of my friends called me regularly to check on me and bring some food stuff. My oldest son took good care of his sisters because I was unable to do anything. Thanks to Portail De L'Immigrant Association, which referred me to a social organization, that delivered food to my home. At the end of my quarantine, I had to start working online, familiarizing myself with software. I had no choice but to get back on track as soon as possible. On top of that, I had to help my son who was in grade 6. He was having a hard time with online school.
After two weeks, I was feeling myself again. At the end of the afternoon, I took my children for a walk while explaining to the youngest why it was not possible to go to the playground; and she was exclaiming, "naughty corona!" I went shopping once a week, and together with the kids, we put together a wonderful schedule that worked really well for our family.
There was also good during that time: it was spending a lot of time with my kids and sharing activities and games. I also had the opportunity to communicate regularly with my father, brothers and sisters who live in Cameroon. In the end, it was a hard experience for everyone but deep inside me, I realized again how important my family in both Canada and Cameroon is to me. And how our communications during this time made me remember how loved I am and how special my family is.
"There was also good during that time: it was spending a lot of time with my kids and sharing activities and games. I also had the opportunity to communicate regularly with my father, brothers and sisters who live in Cameroon. In the end it was a hard experience for everyone but deep inside me i realized again how important my family in both Canada and Cameroon is to me."