The 'Veilomani' Spirit Prevails

Day 12 of the Positivity Challenge

Today is Day 52 since this outbreak of COVID19 was announced in April and what a roller coaster of a ride the last few weeks have been for us all. We have gone through ups and downs as a nation, as we have endured all different manner of lockdowns and curfews, we have found solace in the likes of Sonia and Faraz, enjoyed the Undoing of Pita & Lice on Fiction Fiji, humoured ourselves with the pledges of public affection and infatuation targeted towards Dr. James Fong and Dr. Alisha Sahu Khan, played guessing games on the timing of the daily announcements and collectively tried to make sense of the opening up of containment zones in the midst of increasing positive cases. The last 3 days have been particularly tough as we have watched the numbers spike and also watched the mothers from Muanikoso come out and plead for the lockdown in their area to be lifted and for help for their families. To watch mothers stand with placards and peacefully ask for help, tugs at the heart in a different way and has been particularly difficult to watch.

But we have also witnessed the huge outpouring of a spirit of community and neighbourly love as different groups have rallied together to try and meet the growing needs of those who have been impacted the most by this crisis. We have seen the NGO Community step up and do what they do best – reach the people, lobby for support for the people and deliver food rations and supplies to the people. It has been incredible to observe organisations like FRIEND and their leader Sashi Kiran consistently deliver food packs, seedlings and assistance around the Western Division and watch Rise Beyond The Reef activate the Basa Exchange and deliver fresh food to those in lockdown or in need and at the same time provide an income to women selling the supplies. We have watched individuals dig deep to do what they can to make sure people don’t stay hungry and in need for too long. Almost as soon as a request goes up on a public page for food, milk or diapers, there is a response to meet the need, funds are sent via MPaisa, people show up at their doorstep and the immediate needs are met for at least another few days.

A conversation with a dear friend today provided such a sense of reassurance that we will get through this, that together we really can and that we will continue to keep the faith. My friend shared accounts of two recent experiences– one involved an iTaukei man who she observed visiting an ATM a few times while she waited for her coffee at a Shopping Centre. The third time he returned to the ATM, she asked him if he needed assistance with the machine. He asked her to check the account on his behalf and as she told him what his balance was, the look on his face told her, he was expecting more. Turns out he was waiting for a deposit so he could shop for supplies for his family and the deposit hadn't arrived. My friend handed him the cash he needed and told him to look at it as a blessing. He refused at first but as she insisted, tears welled up in his eyes and he expressed gratitude as he took the note and walked towards the supermarket.

The next experience took place as she was standing in line behind a couple at a supermarket. The couple were having a discussion about what items they needed to put back. The items they started to put back included diapers and baby’s milk. My friend handed them the cash they needed to make up the shortfall and the emotional couple accepted the help and walked away with all they needed.

It’s reassuring to know that there are people around us who will step in to help when they see a need and will do it without wanting any recognition or acknowledgement. It comes from a sincere place of wanting to make sure that no one goes without. That everyone who needs food and supplies will have their needs met while Fiji negotiates this crisis.

Together we really can get through this. There is enough love and goodwill in this nation and in the hearts of those abroad who call this nation home to sustain us. Let’s continue to do the little we can to help each other through and may the "veilomani" spirit prevail.









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