Revd Sr Veronica reports on the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in the region.
The most affected victims of COVID-19 in the Solomon Islands are the students in Honiara and on Guadalcanal. Their education has been disturbed, because schools are closed down and the government moved them to their respective islands. Most of them do not know what to do in their villages, as there is no access to any learning facilities. Now the schools are opened but the students from remote islands could not make it back in time. Boats travelling to remote islands like Temotu are rare, because of the great distance and the boats have to be seaworthy. Furthermore, parents of the students do not have the money to pay for their return fares. Most of the students have outstanding school fees and COVID-19 added another burden to the parents.
The Ministry of Education provide lessons for the Students through the Solomon Island Broadcasting (SIBC), but the network is very poor in the remote islands.
Parents with little income
Most parents depend very much on the sale of the crops they grow to meet the needs of their family, especially school fees. COVID-19 had a huge impact on such people as most markets in Honiara are closed down. Many people have asked the Prime Minister to re-open the small markets in Honiara. However, the government has to protect the people from the virus and stand firm against the market vendors.
The Economy of the country is badly affected
The Economy of this country is affected both locally and internationally, and the resources are no longer sustainable to keep up in the world market. These resources are badly affected; Agriculture, Fisheries, Mining, and Tourism. Last year, tourism was picking up in this country after been affected by the Ethnic Tension. However, COVID-19 puts tourism back on its knees. The hospitals and clinics are also affected, and rural clinics badly need new supplies, but nothing is being provided and this causes great risk to our peoples’ lives.
People working for the government had to be repatriated to their home islands, and so most offices are closed. These people too found it hard to sustain their families as they returned home without jobs. Some people lost their jobs, especially those who are working in hotels, due to lack of customers. People are encouraged to work from home, but this is a huge challenge, as most houses are crowded and have a lack of privacy.
Pastoral Ministries are affected
Social distancing is one of the challenges in the field of Pastoral Ministries and Church Services. Fortunately church services are not closed in the Solomons, because this is the very heart of the people. People are more committed to attend church services and more connected with their neighbours and are kind to them at this time. Although the government, through the Leaders of the Churches, discourage big gatherings and conferences, Christian people are really committed to their faith and belief.
Religious Communities’ pastoral ministries are scaling down and this is another challenge for the Sisters and Brothers. Although, we’ve minimised visiting villages and communities, we still attend to visitors coming to our doors. People are desperate to hear the good news and be encouraged to stand firm in their faith.
Revd Sr Veronica