202O is a year to remember, many will say.
It is a year that brought challenges to many. From the community to the national level in our beloved motherland, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
A tear falls for the unborn baby who died because there was no medical attendant. A tear falls for the pregnant mother who lost her life while struggling over the mountains of Sarawaged to get to the nearest health center. A father is left a broken heart because he lost his wife and baby – the next generation to carry on his name and traditions.
It was indeed a sad year.
But I want to say we must be reminded that this was the normal situation even before 2020. The year 2020 has brought out more everyday struggles in the villages, mountains, valleys, forest, and over the seas.
So, we view 2020 as the difficult year?
Yes, COVID-19, as they say, is a new disease that has impacted our nation socially, economically and politically. Fear of COVID-19 struck as early as February and March. Children missed many days of school, public servants worked from home, bombarded with baby sitting and home schooling duties. Many low paid employees lost their jobs. Transportation was affected and the informal economy cycle stopped for a few months. No fresh food. No market and no transport affected many farmers and customers.
Domestic violence increased in the homes, and life was difficult. it was difficult to put food on the table. Was this only in 2020?
So, I pondered with these questions: Is COVD-19 different to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer or other diseases? Did we address COVID-19 appropriately in 2020? What can we learn from 2020 then?
A year learning 2020 was. But the difficulties encountered were not different from previous years.
COVID-19 affected the economy. Politics was affected as tests of leadership we have witnessed with the vote of no confidence and horse trading. As we move forward into 2021, COVID-19 like HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, or cancer is here to stay.
We all have a responsibility to contribute to making 2021 a successful year for ourselves and those around us.
If you have more, give a little to your neighbor. Let’s start to help people, and give more than we take. We are indeed blessed with experiences to grow. So let’s start sharing. Let’s connect with those in our villages and the people at the rural areas.
*Mary Fairio works with the PNG National Research Institute (NRI). She is currently studying overseas.