Writing for UNICEF #6 – Fundraiser ends June 30 – Double your donation

On May 18, 2021, participants from Kenya to California wrote in response to Covid-themed paintings by children, teenagers and young adults from around the world. Our fundraiser will remain open for two more days, until June 30th. All donations will be matched, pound for pound, by the Pears Foundation! Click here to donate.

In this, our last post, we have writing from Madge O’Callaghan, Aideen Walsh and Paula Gilvarry.


Madge O’Callaghan, Co Clare, Ireland

Image credit: “Healthcare Heroes” by Muzzamil Mughal, Pakistan

muzzamil-mughal-pakistanShashi Dhar is sick and tired of being sick and tired. Another old woman gasping her last breath. Shashi holds her hand and sings softly to her. Her family didn’t make it on time to see her. Two strong sons and a fine daughter, laid low or living in another country, Shashi guessed.

Shashi caresses the cracked dry skin of his charge, willing her to die quickly, painlessly. Another one, and another and another. How many was that now? Old women and old men outliving their usefulness. Sure who would miss them? Hadn’t they lived long enough anyway?

No flatline. No unplugging. The most he can do is offer slow release pain meds – saturating the old woman’s lungs with morphine, watching her as she slowly draws a last rattling breath and flicks open her eyes, wide and accusing.

Shashi sings softly, all the old tunes that his mother taught him at her knee. He sings songs about boats on rivers that he’s never seen; about love of people in strange and foreign places; about children and insects and cows and horses and bees and snakes. He dredges up memories of songs that he thought he had long forgotten and when he could sing no more he reaches inside himself further for yet another song. The old woman wasn’t dead yet. Her heart was strong. She fought until there was no fight left in her. Then she relented, gave a soft sigh and she was gone.

Shashi went to the next bed. He held the hand of the woman lying in the bed. He sings to her until she too slips peacefully beyond him. 


Aideen Walsh, Co Leitrim, Ireland

Image credit: “You Are Not Alone”, Samira Mammadova, Azerbaijan.

That was the year we unhooked 
our tentacles from the world
and watched it stand still;
Found the music of birdsong, laughter, tears
and the joyful silence of togetherness.
A year stolen from the world yet spent together.
Reflecting a time we may never have again.


Paula Gillvarry, Co Sligo, Ireland

Image credit: “Wild Imagination” by James Moonan, Ireland

It is grey inside.  I am grey. Life is grey, no school, no sport, no anything
My parents are on top of me, all the time
Feckin Armageddon since March 20
Zombies would be better
This is zombie land by a thousand
My room is grey, I am grey, my parents used to be fun, well for parents they were fun
And they went out to work, came home with news
Now they are on compute all day and only watch Covid news
I hate bloody Covid
I want to beat it, burn it, obliterate it
But it's too clever
It's a virus
I know about viruses on computers
And now the virus in us “humans’
Are we humans still?  Seems to me we have become the zombies… Ha ha, hysterical
I want to go out the door, kick a football around, hang around that park bench where the girls used to sit, especially when Sarah was there
Sarah... I see her colours, bright red, cobalt blue, iridescent green
She shimmers in my mind
She sometimes walks past the house with her parents, masks on taking their daily walk… good for your mental health, that really annoying voice says on the radio.
I hate the radio now
I will live in my head with Sarah,
We will fly to Africa on Pink Flamingos, feed fat racoons,
I will give her a giant sunflower and secretly long for a sweet Sarah kiss in return
We will sit on the grass in the park and she will make a daisy chain, using her finger nail to close the chain.
She will lean in towards me and place her offering over my head
As it falls over onto my neck I lean forward to kiss her
Knock, knock
My bedroom door is shaking
Sean, did you not hear me?
It's grey again

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