People wearing protective masks cross the street in Kuwait City on March 2, 2020, amid a global outbreak of the novel Coronavirus. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: After the government decided to cancel classes for two more weeks, children remain stuck in their houses, playing, studying, watching movies or fiddling with gadgets. They are not permitted to go out and parents are strictly implementing new rules of avoiding physical interaction with playmates.

"This is a completely new way of life for everyone, not just my family. We all want a safe environment for our children, so I am strictly implementing the rules for their sake," said Rasha, a Syrian mother. "My kids are bored and they are voicing their desire to go out to the malls and enjoy; I explained to them about the virus, and they understand and are cooperative," she said.

Rasha has two children, aged 9 and 10. "They need physical activities every day, so what I do is join them in walking outside our house in Hawally. I am also teaching them to do household chores so they can use their muscles. I accompany them to their grandparents' house so they can interact with them. I don't allow them to go out of the house - I don't allow them to even visit their classmates. They just have to stay at home. When it comes to food, I don't eat or order from restaurants. I cook their food every day. I am hoping that one day I wake up and hear news about a vaccine against it," she said.

The gravity of the disease is being felt globally. "I have two kids - one in Manila and one here in Kuwait; we also have several cases of coronavirus there. I am worried because I want them to be safe at all time, and I will be at their side as much as I can. I told my son back home that since they also have no classes in the Philippines, he has to stay home and never go out except for buying foodstuff," said Josephine, whose children are both in college, one in the Philippines and the other in Kuwait.

Rachelle, a Filipina with three children, is doing the same for her children. "Since we cannot go out, I spend most of my time at home doing school activities with them. We revise a lot, because when they return to school, they have to take exams. I want them to not forget their lessons, so I review them frequently," she said.

Rachelle also doesn't allow her kids to go out of their house in Farwaniya. "It's too scary, because Kuwait is a small country, unlike the Philippines, where we are separated by islands so we can escape. Last Friday, early morning, I took them to the seaside, but told them to only play on the shore. After that they wanted to eat, but I was afraid to enter a restaurant with my kids, so we ordered through the drive-thru and ate in the car," she said.

"When opening the door of the car, I use tissue paper. We open the door for them. I tell them to never touch the elevator buttons - I do it for them. I teach them to wash their hands. I have bought rubbing alcohol and sanitizers to keep my family safe. This virus is scary and we are affected every day, because it's growing rapidly," she said.

There is one positive aspect in their life that she thanks - prayers every day. "Thank God, but no thanks to the virus, they now understand the meaning of prayers, and because of this, we make it a point to pray every day together as a family. It has become part of our daily routine to pray to God and ask for help. I love seeing my kids praying to God asking for help, not just for themselves, but for others and to eradicate the virus," she said.