MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The pandemic halted in-person learning, canceled summer camps and caused virtual interactions to become the norm.
“Unimaginable, unfathomable, unthinkable,” that’s how 12-year-old Shanaya Pokharna captured her COVID-19 experience. Her mother was the first in her family to get sick with the coronavirus.
“She was like in bad shape at the time,” the Lausanne student. “We were all scared because we didn’t really know. The pandemic had just started right so we didn’t really know how everything was going to be.”
In November, Shanaya’s dad, who is an infectious disease specialist contracted COVID next.
“The patient is suffering when they are crying and they are seeking help, they want to hug you,” shared Dr. Hiren Pokharna. “I knew that at some point with the number of patients I was seeing that I would eventually get it. But again that is why I became a doctor to be able to help people.”
The pandemic made learning more difficult too. Shanaya said it was hard to stay mentally focused while not inside a physical classroom.
She also believes classrooms are safest with students wearing masks or being vaccinated.
“The article I wrote for time I wanted it to be like from the point of view as a kid and a teenager,” the 12-year-old said. “Because a lot of articles out there were more informational or about adults.”
“The way she expressed her feelings I mean each line I could say that was coming right from her heart,” said Payal Pokharna, Shanaya’s mother.
To encourage kids and adults to take the vaccine, Shanaya and her friends began a vaccine campaign.
She challenged people to take a shot of a spicy or sour liquid to encourage others to get the vaccine shot.
Shanaya wants the next generation to know:
“There’s always going to be the light at the end of the tunnel and not everything is going to be bad. There’s going to be a good outcome eventually."