There is no doubt that 2020 was a very difficult year for many; a year like no other that we have experienced in our lifetime. Our prayers remain with those who have been negatively impacted by this pandemic. Many have lost jobs, loved ones, homes and much more. In spite of our challenges, 2020 also showed our strength, indomitable spirit and love for one another.
How could we forget the courage, bravery and tenacity displayed by our essential and frontline workers? We salute the doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists, care givers, other medical professionals, the uniformed branches, security personnel, bankers, food and grocery store workers and other essential workers who have helped us through this health crisis. They continue to put themselves in harm’s way and make personal sacrifices to keep us safe and healthy. We will be forever indebted to them.
The struggle has been real for our people during this pandemic. It has been heartbreaking to see Bahamians on long lines for food, waiting on unemployment benefits from the National Insurance Board, experiencing anxiety due to loss of income and watching our children not being able to learn due to a lack of access to the tools they need.
Businesses have faced major challenges trying to retain their employees and keep afloat during these unprecedented times with some having to completely shut down operations. The resulting impact has been job losses, furloughed workers, financial instability and lack of accommodation with many left homeless or moving from house to house. The DNA is proud to have joined other civic organizations and churches to bring relief to those who have been disenfranchised as a result of this pandemic and we will continue our efforts in 2021.
One of the main consequences of this virus has been the isolation and loneliness it has created. Many were forced to be away from loved ones, family members and friends as the pandemic took a mental and emotional toll on our people. Our children have also been affected from an educational, emotional and social interaction perspective.
The progress our nation has made in combating this virus has been achieved because of the efforts and sacrifice of us all. We have showed our strength, selflessness, patriotism and resilience by following health and safety measures. However, we must not let our guards down. A new strain of the virus, which is more contagious, has been discovered in a number of countries around the world including our neighbor, the United States of America.
We must remain vigilant while continuing to wash our hands and practice social distancing. It is equally important that we practice self care: exercising, eating healthy, taking our vitamins and looking after our mental health. This is also a good time to learn new trades and acquire new skills.
As we journey through 2021, the challenges we face as a nation are significant and vast. We have record unemployment particularly among young people, a record fiscal deficit, sovereign junk bond status and a social crisis. However, these challenges can be overcome with the right visionary and competent leadership I hope to bring as prime minister of this great nation, navigating our islands to more prosperous days with the support of hardworking Bahamians.
The pandemic exposed the flaws and weaknesses of our economic model, education system, public healthcare infrastructure, government services, private sector operations and simply the way we conducted business. COVID-19 has forced us to embrace technology and sped up digital transformation within our economy; but there is much work to do to bring us into the 21st century.
In spite of our challenges, there is reason for optimism and hope that our best days are ahead of us. In 2021, we must draw on our strengths and lead the charge to build the New Bahamas. We stand at a pivotal time in history, which requires a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking, innovation, creativity, agility and the audacity to do things we have never done. As we set goals for the new year, I implore you to add a few more resolutions for the sake of our country.
Let us shun hatred, hostility and malice toward one another. Instead, let us embrace kindness, tolerance, charity, unity and solidarity; working together toward a common loftier goal. There is no limit to what we can achieve when we come together to fight for a better Bahamas.
May God bless, keep and sustain us in 2021 and may He continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
• Arinthia S. Komolafe is the leader of the Democratic National Alliance.