Above: Rowan McEwan in his sanctuary at QRC. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

My name is Rowan Nicholas McEwen and I’m a student at Queen’s Royal College. My hobbies include composing music, playing trombone, and drawing. I am also one of the many teenagers in the Caribbean who live with autism.

Throughout my life, I have overcome multiple barriers to get to where I am, and the one I’m currently facing is no different.

Hearing the news of the first case of COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago was devastating for me. I thought, after so many months, we would be able to hold out until medication, or better yet, a vaccine, arrived, but sadly, that didn’t happen

Thankfully, the government immediately put procedures in place to slow the spread of the virus. But as fear and news of deaths became more rampant, I became increasingly concerned about my family and friends.

Still, I told myself we would be through this storm soon enough without too much trouble happening. And then the first death hit.

Quarantine has been hard for me in other ways too. School to me is a place where I can socialize, as well as a sanctuary where my worries are (mostly) trivialized. To not be able to visit this place at all was truly painful. And it wasn’t just school that was off-limits either. The entire outside world was suddenly beyond my grasp.

All the beautiful and aesthetically pleasing locales such as Maracas Beach, Piarco Airport, the Savannah, ‘de back’ of La Puerta, and even St. James were all areas I was prohibited from visiting. Witnessing the wonderful surroundings of these areas was therapeutic for me, and now these were now practically taken away from me.

My mom asked me a week ago what the experience was like, and I said, “Like in Libya.”  And as a former refugee in the Libyan Civil War, the parallels to that and the current quarantine. We weren’t allowed to leave — we were stuck at home, living in constant fear.

It was all too familiar. The only difference was there was nothing to help escape this nightmare — no ferry this time around, just the gnawing dread from within.