Tatsiana started this project when New Zealand’s two-month lockdown had been lifted – but the easing of restrictions brought its own set of anxieties.
She had spent lockdown with her 13-year-old daughter, Lola, who had got used to being at home – or on 'extended holidays', as Tatsiana puts it. 'She took the ‘stay home save lives’ mantra literally and was not keen to join me on walks or bike rides.' Lola had adapted to socialising online, and she enjoyed the online learning her teachers had pulled together so quickly. 'She was not looking forward to going back to school.'
Going back out into the world meant learning a strange new set of behaviours, from physical distancing to following the official contact tracing procedures.
Lockdown easing meant that Tatsiana could visit her neighbours again and catch up with them. They had all had their own worries, from continuing a course of chemotherapy to keeping a business afloat to simply passing the time.
At times, the lockdown reminded Tatsiana of an earlier period of danger in her life. 'Flashbacks from my childhood in Soviet Belarus brought back memories about Chernobyl fallout in 1986 and the Soviet government mismanagement of the situation.' But ultimately there was no comparison: while the Soviet authorities had been secretive and faltering back then, this year New Zealand has earned international praise for its rapid, open response to the pandemic.