The Covid outbreak in Fiji that began in April 2021 has seen over 6000 people test positive for the virus, overwhelming the country’s health system and having a devastating impact on many families.
Fijian resident Jone Vakalalabure says the current restrictions mean that he avoids the crowds and only leaves home to go to public places when it’s absolutely necessary.
“I haven't really gone out into the community to see for myself what's going on but all the stories I hear on social media and mainstream media are pointing to hardships and struggle.”
He says not being able to visit friends and family has led to boredom and a sense of loneliness for him and many other Fijians.
“I stay home a lot. I live in the city but my mother and siblings live in the village. They don't have proper internet or telephone signals. When they get to a place where they can call, then they contact me.”
Jone is also a single dad and has been separated from his son for over 4 months now and the only way they communicate is online and by telephone.
Jone has been finding ways to look after his wellbeing during these tough times.
“I have a farm, just a small piece of land. I go there to get some fresh air, fresh oxygen and do a little bit of farming.”
As well as spending time in nature, Jone says he is meditating and praying.
“I've probably never prayed so much in my life. It's not only for me and my family and friends, but it's for all Fijians and every citizen of the world.”
Staying positive is key to looking after mental health and despite the hardships, Jone has found that there are some good elements.
“I try to be grateful, this time allows you to pause and reflect. To look ahead to the future.”
“We are learning to be nicer people, nicer human beings.”
“We should be kind. We should be thankful to Australia and New Zealand for giving us vaccinations and sending medical personnel.”
He says everyone helping each other out, whether it's giving money, being kind or through prayer and supportive messages online.
Jone's advice to the community and others in his position is to utilise this time that Covid restrictions have provided.
“Pause with some reflection, discussion, talk about the past and the now. Think about how to take the negativity, hardships and struggles and learn from them, turning them into something positive.
“It's going to take a very long time to recover and rebuild. Support and kindness can help each other through the tough times.”
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