An 11-year-old Bridgetown boy has won a competition in which he spoke about going back to school in the shadow of Covid-19.
Just two days after Shiloh Alexander, a Bridgeville Primary School Grade 5, submitted his entry, the virus took the life of his uncle.
Shiloh entered the competition after his teacher, Kim Thompson, challenged her class to do so. Taskeen Abrahams, Caillum Hector, both Grade 5s, and Ashleigh Peters, a Grade 6, also entered.
The Centre for Early Childhood Development, a non-profit organisation that provides training and resources to ECDs, ran the competition to mark International Children’s Day.
Children could submit a short story, video, poem, song or a rhyme, about how they felt going back to school.
On Friday July 10, Shiloh was chosen as the intermediate-phase winner for his video entry. He won R300.
According to his father, Anton Alexander, Shiloh made the video while his mother, grandmother and uncle were battling Covid-19 at home, and just two days after entering the competition, Shiloh’s uncle, Shaun Phillips, succumbed to the virus.
“It has been a difficult time for us,” Mr Alexander said.
“I was the last one in the family to test positive for Covid-19, so Shiloh and our 6-year-old daughter had to deal with the loss of their uncle, as well as being separated from us, as they stayed with my mother while my wife, my mother-in-law and I recovered at home.”
He described Shiloh as a hard worker who always tried his best.
“In general, he pushes himself to do the best – whether academically or with sport. Sometimes he can be too hard on himself, and I have to remind him that he did his best, despite the outcome.”
Ms Thompson said the news that Shiloh was one of the winners had helped to lift his spirits during a sad time for the family.
“This was good news for his family. Shiloh illustrated his concerns and fears in the video presentation, and, unfortunately, his fears became a reality. He had a close relationship with his uncle.
“He was among the people who celebrated Shiloh’s achievements and always reminded him about how proud an uncle he was. There is a scripture that reminds us that ‘weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning’.”
She congratulated Shiloh on his “awesome achievement” and for being resilient despite everything his family faced.
“Also, well done to all the others who participated in the competition. We are very proud of you,” Ms Thompson said.
Chanel Fredericks, from the Centre for Early Childhood Development, said the organisation, along with the Cape Town Museum of Childhood, usually threw a big party in a park for International Children’s Day but it had not been possible to do that this year because of lockdown.
“A lot of people spend time on social media during lockdown, and many adults expressed how it impacted them. We were wondering whether there is an outlet for children to share how they were feeling, and that is why we launched the online competition. In this way, we could still celebrate International Children’s Day, and also give children an opportunity to express themselves in a creative way. I wish we could give every child a prize who entered. We were so impressed by all the effort they put in,” she said.