Photo Essay

The World Looks to 2021 With Relief, Fear and Heartache

For many, January can’t come fast enough. We asked people around the world how this year has shaped their views on 2021.

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The challenges of an unprecedented year snaked through everyone’s life, from cobblers in Mexico to pharmacists in Mongolia. Many await a quick, unsentimental end to 2020.

Next year will bring not only the anticipation of a fresh start but also the increasing availability of a coronavirus vaccine and the slow crawl back toward normal. Global Press Journal asked dozens of people — young and old — what they expect for 2021. Some reacted with hope, while others teetered on despair. They worried about decreased earnings or doubled down on faith.

Many acknowledged that, even with a remedy, life may never return to the way they once knew it. Here are some of their responses.

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José Luis Oseguera, a cobbler in Chihuahua, Mexico

“It’s been difficult this year. We’ve lost good friends. But these are things that have to happen, one way or another; in this life, we’re just passing through. For next year, I hope things are better for everyone. But that depends on how we behave. It also depends on having faith that things will go well for us.”

Lilette A. Contreras, GPJ Mexico

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Parangchothy Kandeepan, a three-wheel taxi driver in Mannar, Sri Lanka

“I am unable to find a government job, as per my educational qualifications — not even as a peon. I am anxious when I think about next year. I do not know what is going to happen. It is difficult even to go through a day. I do not feel like eating, even if I am hungry.”

Vetrichelvi Chandrakala, GPJ Sri Lanka

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Dayra Fyah, or La Rapera de Ecatepec (The Rapper of Ecatepec), in Ecatepec, Mexico

“We must accept that things will no longer be the way they were before, and we need to adapt to that. … I have hope that we will live with dignity, without fear, without anger and without violence, and that the system will reach those who live in places like this. That is what I am fighting for.”

Aline Suárez del Real, GPJ Mexico

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Sabita Poudel, left, a restaurant owner in Malekhu, Nepal

“We are unable to pay our bills. We have not even sent our children to school. Teachers call us, but we say we don’t have money to pay their fees. We have run this place for 11 years but never faced a situation like this. If the lockdown continues, we will have to go back to Nuwakot [a town 55 kilometers (34 miles) away] and do farming. But it will not be enough to sustain our family.”

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

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Raúl Carnota, a restaurant manager in Buenos Aires, Argentina

“I miss chatting with the customers, with the regulars. I’ve been doing this since I was 17 years old. I started as a dishwasher and never stopped. Now, I’m here alone all day, hoping to sell something. What’s good is that it’s a lot less work.”

Lucila Pellettieri, GPJ Argentina

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Aida Pérez Rosa, a homemaker in Aguada, Puerto Rico

“There have been a lot of challenges: politics, the pandemic, hurricanes, earthquakes, things that have been negative for the whole world throughout the year, especially Puerto Rico. If people don’t become aware, if they don’t see when they’re the ones carrying the virus, they don’t take care of themselves, they don’t protect themselves, they go out drinking, then I believe 2021 will be worse than 2020.”

Coraly Cruz Mejías, GPJ Puerto Rico

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Moloki Mokone, a student and farmer in Umguza, Zimbabwe
A Botswana resident, he was visiting Zimbabwe when the border closed and couldn’t return for months.

“I had made plans to get married this year. My plans have not changed, just the time frame. 2020 has been an interesting year that has taught me ways of surviving in difficult circumstances. One of the things I got to do while here was engage in farming. One can say I am now ‘romantically involved with farming,’ which is something I intend to continue doing when I get back to Botswana. 2021 is going to be a great year that I am looking forward to.”

Fortune Moyo, GPJ Zimbabwe

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Hadija Namakula, a 5-year-old pupil in Namasanga, Uganda

“Next year the doctors must get the medicine so that I can go to school and rejoin my friends.”

Edna Namara, GPJ Uganda

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Jazirah Nanyonjo, a teacher in Kiwanga, Uganda

“I stopped teaching in March 2020 when the government suspended schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since then, I haven’t received a salary. In June, I started teaching one child so I could earn some money. Another child joined in September. Because parents in my neighborhood saw me walking with these children to their homes, they started asking if I teach young children. I told them I do. I now have 10 children who come from different schools but live near me. Maybe schools will open around March or April, and hopefully we shall be back to school and will begin to receive salary. I miss the children, and I can’t wait to see them again after such a long time.”

Beatrice Lamwaka, GPJ Uganda

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Enkhriimaa Tserennadmid, a pharmacist in Arkhangai, Mongolia

“Even though many people faced work difficulties because of the coronavirus outbreak, both my husband and I managed to get jobs. Also, we will welcome our new baby in the upcoming year, and after we finish building our own house, we will have our wedding [celebration].”

Odonchimeg Batsukh, GPJ Mongolia

Translation notes

This article was translated by Aída Carrazco, Josephine Anthony, Ndahayo Sylvestre and Nomin Byam. Click here to learn more about our translation policy.