Last week, a young girl lost her mother amidst the hundreds of strangers attending a local graduation. On this occasion - credit to quick thinking by the staff of the National University of Samoa – they wouldn’t start the event until the mother was found.
So they kept the girl, who at that moment was bawling her eyes out, at the front of the building while they sought the mother with an announcement on the P.A. system. Thankfully, they found the mother and this story had a happy ending.
It could have easily gone the other way. This little child could have been lost, picked up by a stranger or even wandered off onto the road to get hit by a car.
The possibilities are endless.
But these incidents are very common in days like today when the country is buzzing with the Christmas spirit. It doesn’t necessarily have to be at a graduation or large public gatherings; we’ve seen this scenario play out inside shops, supermarkets and public places at these times, where children are lost because parents and their carers are whizzing about doing some last-minute shopping.
Indeed, we know that Christmas time is a crazy period – especially two days out from the event – where there are a gazillion things to do. What with presents to buy, meals to plan and family and friends to entertain, there is hardly enough time.
But this madness has cost some of us dearly over the years. It is at times like this when we become extremely vulnerable to tragedies of all sorts.
We highlighted the case of this particular child at the beginning of the piece to make the point that to have a happy Christmas, we must ensure our loved ones are taken care of first and foremost.
We don’t want this Christmas to be a sad occasion. We don’t envy being in the shoes of the family who lost a young girl last week due to a traffic incident. Their Christmas no doubt has been ruined and they are unlikely to want much to do with any celebration.
But this should give us plenty of warning about the need to look after our young ones – whether it is holding their hands in public places or supervising them wherever you may be.
Keep in mind that there are some wicked people out there amidst this busyness, who will look to take advantage of the situation. Though most people are full of the holiday spirit and goodwill this time of year, criminals look for the opportunity to take advantage.We’re talking about sex predators who will be preying on young girls – and sometimes boys – who look vulnerable anywhere and everywhere. So please make sure you know where your children are and if you are at a public place, it pays to always hold their hand and keep an eye out for them.
This is also a time where many of us like to take a trip to the beach or other places where swimming is likely to be involved. I’ve seen instances where some parents get on the ‘juice’ while leaving the kids to their own devices at the pool or the sea. This is a recipe for disaster and we’ve seen tragedy strike as a result.
Children should never be in the water by themselves. Anything can happen and quickly too. Tears and regrets will not bring them back. A little care and a plan can go a long way to ensure a safe and merry celebration for all.
It might involve mum or dad sacrificing a few drinks to hang out and supervise the children. It could even mean getting an adult you trust to do that while you enjoy yourself.
Safety of course is not confined to looking after children.
Because this is a time where the car will become especially useful, drivers must always ensure the car is safe to be on the road.
And don’t forget to look after your home when you make plans to go away. Thieves and burglars are looking for ways to break in while you are away and distracted.
Ensure all the power plugs are switched off and ask someone to look out for your home while you’re away.
At those end of year work Christmas gatherings, look after your work colleagues. If you know they have had enough to drink, put them in a taxi and send them home. Don’t allow them to make a fool of themselves in public – let alone risk their lives and that of others because of stupidity.
Two days away from Christmas, the general feel around Samoa today is festive and positive.
We want it to stay that way. So make sure you look after yourself and the ones closest to you. Have a safe Wednesday Samoa, God bless!