In times like this, we have to come together, stay strong and keep the faith

Cabinet’s decision to extend the State of Emergency (S.O.E.) makes sense.

Although the additional four weeks might sound like an eternity given the restrictions many of us are still trying to come to terms with, what’s a few more weeks if it means saving precious lives and stopping the deadly coronavirus pandemic from reaching our shores?

Don’t take us wrongly; what is happening is not ideal. But all you have to do is look at the latest statistics on this deadly virus to know we cannot be complacent. It is also why we believe the Government must be supported in its response.

When this piece was being compiled, 59,197 people had died from 1.17 million cases worldwide. In Samoa, six of 26 cases remain untested as we speak. Without the result of those six tests, it is comforting to know that Samoa remains one of a few countries in the world where the coronavirus is not found. Which is great news.

This country is still reeling from the devastation of the measles crisis. Nobody ever dreamt that so soon this nation of just less than 200,000 people could enter a six-week state of emergency with consequences that reach far beyond health and general wellbeing.

We just cannot place a value on how much this will hurt this country financially. Not yet anyways.

But then who expected something like this to happen let alone now?  Nobody could have predicted that today, we would find ourselves in a situation where we are. Nobody could have imagined that everything we all thought was so important we could not do without could be stripped from us and we’re all so helpless to do something about it.

Think of all the social gatherings, schools, churches, jobs and all other gatherings that used to occupy our time and cost so much money. Think of how life has dramatically changed during the past few weeks? Think of the things we considered ever so normal only a few weeks back that seem so distant and far away today?

But here we are; in Samoa and around the world today where the coronavirus pandemic has stopped us in our tracks, bringing everything to a grinding halt.

It is a cruel, cruel reality. It’s a crisis that has transcended borders, race, religion, continents and nations. It does not discriminate and it doesn’t care what you think.

Every one throughout the world would have the same complaints and questions. How dare this happens now when there is so much to be done? How dare when we have so many business opportunities to chase, millions of dollars to collect, dreams to fulfill? How dare when we have church conferences to hold, birthdays, weddings and parties to attend? How dare when we have education dreams, fitness goals to fulfill and so forth?

The questions are endless. But that’s expected, it’s in our human nature to react that way.

The reality is that today, we are all in this together. Whether we like it or not, the truth staring at us unblinkingly is that how we survive during the next few weeks and months will depend entirely on our response.

We have two options. We can moan, complain and continue to ask questions. Or we can do the best we can to adapt given the present circumstances so we can make the best out of the situation. We recommend the latter.

For sure it’s not ideal but it is not impossible either. It’s going to be uncomfortable, challenging, scary but we are all in this together and we can help each other come out stronger and wiser.

The point is that everybody has a role to play. And each and every one of us need to play our part.

On Friday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and the Government announced an extension of the S.O.E. for another four weeks. In the meantime, all orders remain the same although some of them might be amended in the coming days.

From an economic point of view, all eyes are on Tuesday’s special Parliament session where the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, will announce a stimulus package. We don’t know how much the Government is prepared to offer.

What we can hope for is that the stimulus package will offer some degree of comfort not just for businesses that are hurting but for individual families including some of Samoa’s most vulnerable who are without jobs and income.

On the other hand, we urge everyone to cooperate with the authorities in terms of the instructions given under the S.O.E.

For most Samoans, one of the hardest ones to follow is the ban on all church gatherings, especially on a day like today, Sunday. But there is an opportunity in every situation. While to fellowship as a church body is necessary and wonderful, in the absence of that today, there is an opportunity to focus on relationships. Firstly, your individual relationship with God and then your family. They are precious and priceless.

In times like this, it is our faith and identity that will get us through. Let’s try and see the positives that this extended lockdown presents. Let’s support each other, find comfort where we can and do the best to ensure the next few weeks and possibly months will go by quickly.

Today being Palm Sunday in preparation for the Easter Week ahead, we need to believe that there is hope.

Stay safe, stay strong and may God continue to keep us all!

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