Uruguayan kids preserve pandemic memories, souvenirs in time capsules

By Santiago Carbone

Montevideo, Aug 23 (EFE).- Face masks, hand sanitizer, documents and written and illustrated recollections of their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic are some of the items that Uruguayan schoolchildren have stored away in time capsules as part of a coronavirus-themed project.

Through their letters and drawings, students from different schools in the southern department (province) of Florida, around 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Montevideo, recalled how they have experienced the past 500 days of the health emergency.

“I had a nice time,” said Tadeo, one of the few children who attend the Cerros de La Macana rural school. The small boy drew a picture of his family on a yellow sheet of paper and recalled the moment when they confined a group of cows.

Florida’s governor, Guillermo Lopez, told Efe that part of the idea behind the project is to “recognize those who have played an essential role in the fight against the pandemic, who are the health workers.”

But unlike many other time capsules, the ones being assembled in Florida will not be sealed for an extremely long period of time. Instead, they will be opened in just 10 years so the young people who created them can see what they had written in 2021.

Lopez stressed the importance of this initiative in a world characterized by the “ephemeral, the instantaneous and the ever-changing.”

Adriana Trezza, a teacher, said for her part that she was drawn to the idea as a way to preserve for posterity the children’s recollections and reflections on an event that neither the kids nor their educators had ever experienced before.

“We thought it was neat for them to express how they experienced those moments, especially when they weren’t able to come to school,” she added.

Those stories will be sealed away for the next decade at Plaza Asamblea in the city of Florida, the capital of a department that on July 10, 2031, will celebrate the 175th anniversary of its founding.

On that day, those responsible for filling up the capsules’ treasures will be the ones to reveal their contents.

Lopez also spoke to Efe about the important role in mitigating the coronavirus that children have played in Florida since Uruguayan authorities declared a health emergency on March 13, 2020.

In January, for example, they led a campaign aimed at encouraging people who had left the department for their summer vacations to take extreme health precautions upon returning home, he said.

Those and other similar efforts are believed to have contributed to a relatively low case load in Florida, where around 6,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus and 79 deaths are attributed to Covid-19.

“Young people here in Florida have been protagonists of that collective responsibility that has allowed us to better manage the pandemic,” the governor said. EFE


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