As the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide have gone pass the 2 million mark, with close to 150,000 deaths to date, Samoa is amongst the few countries that remained free of COVID-19. With a mere population of 198,000, we do not want to imagine how far we as a nation, can survive should the virus reach us.
Miraculously for our people, we have been blessed with time; time to prepare and to rethink; time to resource and to restrategize, most importantly, time to reset.
This is because we have learnt that COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis. Look at us, still beyond the coronavirus reach, yet, we have seen the economic and social impact of the government orders as per the State of Emergency, and the relevant restrictions, on people’s daily routine.
From 41 callers during the 14-days SOE of 21 March – 3 April; to 92 callers recorded for the 2 weeks from 4 – 17 April 2020, SVSG’s Help Line records highlighted a community reeling in the economic and social impact of this health crisis. There were 9 domestic violence cases; 3 abused and abandoned children, 2 callers alerting SVSG of an alleged homicide in the village; 8 callers checking up on their mothers and children being sheltered, 10 calls from the Police outpost referring cases to SVSG (and vice versa), 5 callers from donors relaying their wish to help out and 11 requesting general assistance and counseling.
The Easter long weekend was the busiest time with a total of 44 callers requesting welfare assistance for the elderly, the disabilities and the children from very poor families. While SVSG was able to distribute some relief packages for these families courtesy of the funding support from the UNICEF, we have come to learn through welfare assessment that most of these callers were simply trying to take advantabe of the situation. This is very sad and disappointing as we struggled to ration the limited supplies that we have to assist those who genuinely need help.
This is really a time for all of us to reset. Think outside of your comfort zone and look beyond to the neighbor that is in need. Come together as a family in prayer at the end of the day for that spirutal nourishment most needed. Tune down your wants to the basic needs as our level of income decreases. Spend sensibly as we anticipate a recession in a couple of weeks or months down the line. Above all else, be mindful of the second greatest commandment, “to love thy neighbor as thyself.”
SVSG believes that if we use this precious time to reset:
In this challenging period, we are all exploring what we can do to help each other. And as a support service organization that prides itself on the value of Families, SVSG is appealing to our people to look our for each other as families. Call SVSG on the 800-7874 Help Line. It is free, works 24 hours and CONFIDENTIAL. Contact us also on our online support service such as SVSG Samoa facebook or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember the simple hygienic rules: wash your hands; stay at home; keep the distance; cover your mouth when coughing etc, because in this age of social distancing, we as an island nation are the original self-isolators.
This virtual connection and the Response mechanism we have in place to address gender based violence during the COVID-19 crisis are all made possible through the financial support from the Spotlight Initiative (UNDP) here in Samoa. “Thank you so much Louisa Apelu and the Spotlight Team for being accommodating of our needs.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President