“We are all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat”, this comment really resounded with me.
No country has been spared the effects of COVID-19. Everyone, everywhere is feeling its impacts. Overcrowded hospitals, full morgues, joblessness, loneliness, empty streets, quiet funerals, hunger, despair.
Here in Sri Lanka we are experiencing day 45 of lockdown. Some towns and cities have been reopened during the day, (with social distancing measures in place), while every night there is a curfew. But in Colombo and several other major cities, the lockdown remains. At this stage the government plans to relax the lockdown on May 4th (day 49).
The government chose to adopt a severe lockdown very early in the pandemic, when only 40 odd cases had been detected across the country. Everything was closed. Every shop, every business, every school. The government’s plan was to allow food trucks to deliver essential goods to around 20 million inhabitants, a mammoth task. After a week or so, and with some hiccups, the food began to come. Sporadically, and with variable quality, but it came. One day it might be a bread truck, another vegetables. Occasionally meat or eggs. Some food ran out quickly, but the essentials – rice and dhal – were available to the people. Those of us with savings were fine. But the millions of daily wage earners -and the millions more – lower and middle class, who live from pay cheque to pay cheque, there is the very real threat of hunger. Many people are going without food as the lockdown drags on.
As well as the hungry, my thoughts are with the children. Stuck inside, in cramped conditions, for weeks on end. These small dwellings are home to several generations, sometimes several families. There was outrage in Spain when the country’s children were stuck indoors for 6 weeks. As we enter the 7th week, the mental anguish of these poor children must be immense.
During this difficult time, we have reached out to many people in need. We have helped to provide essentials to people in quarantine, and given food packs to daily and weekly wage earners who are suffering without regular income. The difficulty we face to make an impact is that transportation throughout the country is greatly restricted as regions remain in strict lockdown.
However we have plans ready to implement as soon as the country opens up, and we can see the hidden side of this terrible situation.
Wherever you are, and whatever your circumstances, we hope you are staying safe and well during this COVID-19 storm.