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City of Banjul
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A friend in need is a friend indeed

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With Aisha Jallow

Once again this saying has showed to be true. In these times of the Coronavirus hanging over us like a dark cloud, we will experience who is our true friend and who is prepared to benefit on the crisis. When the hysteria struck Sweden a lot of people began hoarding foodstuff, medication and toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper! Almost everyone uses it and we couldn’t imagine to manage without it. The toilet paper factories here are producing millions of rolls every day, so there really is no need for being hoarding that. Suddenly one day the hysteria struck people and the shops found themselves without toilet paper supply. Our schools for the younger kids are not closed yet, but if that happens the kids can occupy themselves by building fortresses with the paper rolls.

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Home studying in mathematics can be done by counting the paper rolls and rolling them out to count how many small pieces there are in each roll. Whenever anyone uses the toilet paper they have to note how many pieces of paper they used and then the kids can do new mathematic assignments and count how much paper is left. I am sure that some creative person out there in cyberspace will soon share amazing ideas of artwork made of toilet paper. Everyone who are working with young kids in daycare centers, schools or after-school activities already save every empty paper rolls to make crafts out of them with the kids. Do you see what you have missed in the Gambia? No Easter chicken or bunnies made of empty toilet paper rolls that kids bring home after school!

All the hoarders are healthy people who have access to a car and who can load their cars with all the stuff they believe they need right now. They make sure that they will have what they want, without a thought of anyone else. Elderly and sick people who don’t drive anymore, or who don’t have access to a car of their own, have huge trouble getting what they need. Hand sanitizers are impossible to buy anywhere right now, they even get stolen from hospitals and health cliniques by greedy people. Painkillers were impossible to buy at the pharmacies for a while, now they are limited to prevent hoarding.
Pre-made frozen meals were sold out in an instant and this was troublesome for the elderly.

Generations don’t live together here, as in the Gambia, and a lot of elderly people live alone. The frozen meals are necessary for those who can’t cook anymore or don’t know how to. I feel sorry for those who have found themselves without the food supply they are used to because of hoarders.

Selfishness has spread out among people as a disease worse than the Corona virus itself. So many people don’t care about the safety regulations and the result is a spreading of the virus. I have heard people here complaining that they can’t go out to play golf or travel as they are used to. Buhu, sorry for you, but if you get really sick you can’t play golf anyway.
One of the problems with the Corona virus seems to be that it is not easy to determine if you are infected.

There are not enough tests for all people, so therefore only those who are really sick and you suspect they have been infected, will be tested. Not everyone get really, really sick. Many feel like they have a bad cold, others might have a sore throat and headache, but are you willing to take the risk?
Socialising is not a bit deal for me, I am used to be alone a lot and I actually like it. I read a lot and I write so I need solitude so I can sort my thoughts. Living in a society where you are used to be surrounded by people all the time, and you couldn’t imagine not to live like that, must be hard.

I read about a Swedish couple who live in Italy and they told that they have seen how the Italians struggle with the quarantine rules in the country.
People are used to meet at cafés and restaurants, they greet each other with handshaking and kisses on the cheek. Now they are not allowed to go out more than for some grocery shopping and visiting the pharmacy. They must keep a distance and not greet each other as they are used to.

This socialising caused the large number of victims in northern Italy. The population is very old and vulnerable which made them the easiest victims for the virus. This is the same with most of the victims in China too. They have had the so called ”one-child” policy there from 1979 to 2015 so most of the population are elderly. If every married couple are only allowed to have one child then the population is decreasing. That was the purpose with this policy, as the population was increasing too much for a while. The couples that admitted to follow the one-child policy got economical benefits. The couples who didn’t follow the rule were punished, fined or even put in prison.

Even if the one-child policy doesn’t apply anymore, people keep following it by themselves as they are used to it and it is convenient in a way.
Having only one child is more affordable and it will also make it easier for the mother of the child to keep on working outside the home. In the rural areas it is common to leave children to be raised by the grandparents. The parents of the child travels to large cities to work. They come home once in a while, but it can be several months in between. The Chinese authorities has told that the numbers of new Corona infected cases has decreased, but the Chinese government is not known for its transparency so it can be a truth with a modification.
It is mostly the elderly and already sick people in China that has deceased from the Corona virus.

Keep in mind that most of the population of China is elderly then the numbers of fatalities counted in per cent of the whole population of China is not that high.
Most of the fatalities are men, those who are most vulnerable are those who smoke cigarretts.

The virus is causing normal flue symptoms but those who have already weak lungs are getting it harder than others. A virus can’t be cured with penicillin but pneumonia can. In Italy, as well as other countries in the southern parts of Europe, people are resistent to antibiotics like penicillin. This is because the doctors are more generous by prescribing antibiotics to their patients. Here in Sweden the doctors hesitate to prescribe penicillin unless it is not absolutely necessary.

Pneumonia can be deadly, if you have a bad cough and can’t sit up to spit out the mucus it will affect you even more. Being resistent to antibiotics means that if there is no drug strong enough to cure the pneumonia you will die from it. The fever and the hard coughing is exhausting for the heart. If a patient already has a heart condition you can understand what this will lead to. High fever and pneumonia is making the heart to work very hard. Being weak and bed-bound can cause that fluid is gathering inside your lungs and you drown from the inside.

Looking at the matter from this perspective you might understand why it is so important to not over prescribe antibiotics. When you already have got the strongest kind, for a desease that actually would have been cured with patience, rest and healthy food, there is nothing that can help you when you really need it.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. A friendly person wishes the best for his or her friends. S/he doesn’t want the friends to get ill or bring affected by any kind of harm. Washing hands thoroughly, coughing in your elbow and keeping a distance to other people is not only because you want to avoid getting infected by the Corona virus. It is also a matter of concern with others. As it can be hard to know if you have been infected with the Corona virus, or if you have a plain cold, it is better to take some precautions. A good hand hygiene is something we always should be aware of. The problem is when you don’t have access to running water, as at too many places in the Gambia.

This is an issue that NAWEC really has to deal with. How is it possible to be a company with that responsibility and being so unable to do a good job? Is it a matter of ignorance or incompetence? I have heard these complaints about NAWEC for several years now. Some time ago I asked a friend of mine to check with NAWEC what it would cost to get acces to the public water line. The information I got was that it would be very expensive (but not how expensive) and that it was impossible anyway because they don’t have pipes and other parts. They didn’t even know how long it would take before they could get a delivery of the missing parts.

Is this how they run a company? Is this typical Gambian or typical ”NAWECian” or plain unprofessional? When something needs to be done it takes forever! How is it possible to get a country on its feet if that mindset doesn’t change? It is not only the problem with NAWEC but all of you know that if you are not able, or willing, to pay ”under the table”, you will be waiting and waiting and so on as it feels forever.
So what about now when the Corona virus has hit the Gambia with its fist and made everything to shut down? Where are your friends now? We saw a decree from the government that all the prices on our necessities have been frozen. That is good, I applaud that, finally something useful.

Ramadan and if the lock down continues it will be a sad month. No public prayers in the mosques, no sharing of food when you are breaking the fast in the evening. You must create new habits and traditions which can be hard. It is possible, but it takes some time to get used to it. You need to find new ways to share what you have with those who are more poor than you. Are you willing to change your mindset? Are you a good friend in need?
A friend in need is a friend indeed and right now we need to consider our deeds thoroughly so what we do will not harm ourselves or anyone else. We can’t act selfishly because we depend on each other.

Instead of thinking that you don’t care about safety regulations you should take them seriously. The Corona virus doesn’t care about who it is infecting, suddenly you might be in need and hopefully you have good people around you who can do good deeds for you.

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