Have you ever ridden on a rollercoaster?
I did, in my youth, I hasten to add, it’s not something I wish to do again.
2020 was a little bit like that. Something I don’t want to repeat.
COVID19 and the long tail of it’s negative impacts on life all over the world has been the basis of many of the speed humps we experienced during 2020.
Being COVID free
In Vanuatu there has only been one positive case of COVID19. A young man returning to Vanuatu from the United States who was quickly quarantined, resulting in no spread within either frontline workers nor the community. Well done to the management of Vanuatu COVID response team.
Being COVID free is one thing, however it doesn’t mean Vanuatu is having an easy ride. International tourism is non existent and domestic tourism continues as best it can. Those who are able to, are finding creative ways to support that sector and exploring their beautifully diverse country.
Many small businesses, such as Mamma’s Laef are hamstrung as they can’t move forward their plans without specific personnel in place. Border closures are signalled to be that way until July 2021. The supports which I provide Mamma’s Laef will continue remotely. The lifeline for remote working has been access to internet in Pango has greatly improved and allows Mary and Jack to continue to lead their team forward while building the resilience of this social enterprise.
Some living in Port Vila who have lost their jobs in and returned to their islands. Day to day living costs are significantly reduced – no rent to pay and producing their own food.
There seems to be an optimism within Vanuatu. There is a stronger sense of understanding of the need to “buy local”, support local businesses, enterprises and those who are committed to a prosperous Vanuatu.
Small businesses are often the backbone of communities and we feel that responsibility. With more unemployed, those working have more family members to support. There is a heightened level of responsibility felt by both Mamma’s Laef and the Mamma’s Laef Charitable Trust. We both want to ensure we can continue to manoeuvre, so staff continue to be employed, so they can continue to support their families and educate their children.
We are local.
Being a Survivor
As a dear ni Vanuatu friend told me not long after the devastation of Cyclone Pam in 2015, as his family faced the ruins of their food gardens, “we are survivors”. That is still true today, and applies to the situation we find ourselves in. A small group, fighting the good fight, resourceful and resilient against the barriers that are put in our way. We are survivors.
We welcome 2021 and know that the foundations we have been preparing since 2015 will bear us fruit.
Mi lukim yu