Editorial comment – Keeping our fingers crossed

First Responders co-founder Sarah Conrad and a team member handing over food parcels to an affected family in Navua. Picture: SUPPLIED

The recent lockdown in the Capital City, movement restrictions, containment rules, and general adherence to COVID-19 safety tips mean Timaleti Nabulu has a lot of time to think, and ponder on events around her.

Two things dominate her thoughts these days.

One is the severe hardship her family is facing because of job losses caused by COVID-19, and the other is the very real threat the virus poses to her family.

She lives at Wailea settlement in Vatuwaqa, Suva with her husband, a former security guard who is now unemployed.

Her daughter is now also unemployed and a son who is a teacher has his own family and lives in Kadavu.

The family has major issues with finance.

She worries about the situations unfolding internationally.

“I think about what we would do if the lockdown was extended another four or five weeks, what will the future look like because at the moment the Government is able to give us a little bit of assistance but what if the pandemic goes on longer, what will it come to?”

Further down the highway, a non-government organisation is providing 100 cooked meals a week to people in the Navua and Pacific Harbour area who are struggling to put food on the table.

First Responders founder Sarah Conrad said there were a number of NGOs offering groceries and other support, so her group wanted to do “something different”.

“In light of the ongoing pandemic lockdown which is depriving many of jobs and subsequent income, we are offering 100 hot meals to individuals and families who do not have the means to tuck into a meal or feed their loved ones,” she said.

It’s when you factor in the report by the Fiji Police Force about the number of juveniles arrested between Sunday night and yesterday, that you wonder what could be wrong.

Acting Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu confirmed seven juveniles were found gathering along Corbett Avenue in Nausori while a 17-year-old girl was found drinking liquor in the Raiwai area in Suva.

There were 61 arrests made during the 24-hour period.

The Southern Division, he said, recorded 25 cases; the Eastern Division recorded 22 cases while seven people were arrested in the Northern Division.

The Western Division recorded seven arrests.

These are contrasts that we see daily.

In the face of great suffering, there are Fijians still trying to beat the system.

In the face of massive unemployment, and the inability to put food on the table, sits the need by some Fijians to rubbish social distancing rules.

We can only hope this isn’t a reflection of a fragmented society, where peer pressure and the inability of people to understand and appreciate suffering, is actually over-shadowed by the need to vent frustrations, enough to indulge in dangerous behaviour.

It is unfortunate that this happening.

But that’s just the harsh reality of our lives now.

Families like Ms Nabulu’s and those assisted by the NGO in Pacific Harbour and Navua, are hoping for some reprieve.

Let’s play our part.

Let’s adhere to social distancing rules.


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