In January the power cuts started, then the cooking gas became hard to find, then the prices of food and basics increased, then the petrol and diesel ran out. The last few months has been surreal as our relaxed, peaceful island lifestyle has turned into one of frustration, shortages and daily worries. Years of financial mismanagement, compounded by a dearth of tourists during the Covid pandemic and now rising fuel prices has led to a complete disaster for the country.
There have been some positives. People from all religions and races have found themselves united against the government. Their attitude towards politics has become necessarily mistrustful and they are determined to hold their elected representatives accountable. Politicians will not be so cavalier with public finance in the future.
It’s very sad to see the people suffering yet again. After the bombings and Covid, life was beginning to return to normality. Schools were operating, people were walking the streets again. Now, once again, schools are closed, firstly as a heavy-handed response to the unrest, and now, because students and teachers cannot find the fuel to travel. In this verdant country, a land of plenty, there is much undeserved misery. While governments and the IMF organize relief funds, individuals and local organisations are doing what they can to provide short term relief.
Last week we organized a delivery of rice, dhal, flour and sugar to a creche which provides a preschool / day care and daily meal to the nearby slum children. The creche was closed when we visited due to the week-long curfew. I’m hopeful that next week it will open again to give the children some reprieve from everything they lack at home. Meanwhile, through the same food hampers, we are also supporting all the wonderful, resilient staff who make the Mia Fratino garments.