Usually, for my first post of the year, I would attempt to write a post to reflect on the past year, so I’ve been coming back to this blog every now and then. It’s always hard to start writing, especially when you’ve only been writing on and off and not consistently, but in light of escalating events this year, it’s equally difficult to not write anything at all.
On 9 March 2020, just over a week after I celebrated my 25th birthday, the first COVID-19 case was reported in Brunei and everything changed drastically. Whatever we heard about the outbreak online or on the news was actually here and that realization hit us hard… really hard. Literally after the report on the first case broke out, people were on a frenzy mode, panic-buying and stockpiling necessities.
As a coping – or rather calming – mechanism of sort, I tried to find an outlet through of course none other than writing because everything suddenly felt so overwhelming and I found myself stricken with chilling fear of the reality that was setting upon our small Sultanate. Still, I couldn’t write a single word.
Thankfully, I was able to clear my head by talking to my loved ones. Once again, I was calm and rational. Amid all this fear, confusion and uncertainty, only then I thought about the people who have to fight for us so that we can all continue with our lives. A week after the first case was announced, I decided to put together the video below as a homage to our frontliners.
Ever since COVID-19 had befallen us exactly a month ago, strict measures and regulations have been imposed by the government over the course of a mere few weeks; dining in and mass gathering (including sports events and weddings) are banned, mosques have been closed for nearly 3 weeks, and businesses – especially the small ones – are slowing down. A couple of days ago, the authorities announced that there will be no “Gerai Ramadhan”.
As of today, we’ve recorded a total of 135 cases including 92 recoveries and, sadly, 1 death.
Despite the terrifying and uncertain circumstances we’re in right now, there’s also a lot of good that are shining through such as the public pouring donations to the government’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, rising youth-led initiatives to help the authorities and the frontliners, and the government repatriating its citizens as well as assisting those from neighbouring countries like Malaysia. Brunei has proven that time and time again that when it is at its best, it is truly something else. Things may not be perfect here or anywhere, but this has once again reminded me just how much our country has done for our people.
If you’re based in Brunei and you wish to contribute to Brunei’s fight against COVID-19, you can check out the links below. I’m sure there’s a lot more opportunities out there but these are the ones that I currently have on my phone.
– Volunteer with Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdZkcrZxAAKAr0jFJRhanWkskJCpt6wA_ymqM-DJfR1ZEsfDA/viewform
– Guide on how to donate to the COVID-19 Relief Fund: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vv1UBB-iORU
– Donations to provide meals to frontliners: http://www.kadairuncit.com/grocery/scot-dinner-meal-packages.html
Before I end my post, I’d just like to take this chance to once again thank the government, the frontliners and the volunteers for working so hard to keep us safe.
And to everyone, please stay informed, stay calm and stay safe. Don’t forget to check in on your loved ones and take care no matter where you are.
Until next time.