Feature

In Praise Of Our Health Heroes

Kim Cable shares that the quarantine processes IN FIJI HAve assured THEM that Fiji is in very good hands, and have handled this pandemic as well as any country in the world can – and better than most. “The health team had to go from handling a measles outbreak, straight into managing a coronavirus pandemic, and they are front-line heroes. We are very, very thankful and proud of the effort Fiji has made.”
02 Aug 2020 10:45
In Praise Of Our Health Heroes
Health officials supported by the military visited the Cable family daily during their home quarantine.

Our family arrived back in Fiji on July 16, 2020. Our wee family, along with people all over the world have experienced a tumultuous few months dealing with the fallout from this worldwide pandemic.

Returning home to New Zealand

For us it meant temporarily leaving Fiji and heading back to New Zealand for four months. While there I continued working for Community Waikato who delivered an essential service as part of a Waikato food hub, ensuring food got to people who needed it.

During the height of the Level 4 lock-down, this food hub was responsible for producing and delivering up to 9000 meals a week to people throughout Waikato who were in need. Geoff was able to continue his work on Fiji Engineering projects from New Zealand.C

Our family were unable to live in our own home in New Zealand, as it had been rented out. Luckily for us, my sister allowed us to crash at her house. It was a bit of a squeeze, but we were safe and happy.

We managed to get our Fiji dog Rascal, back to New Zealand, and she was at my sister’s too. One big happy family. Rascal has stayed on in New Zealand with my parents, and is currently loving being a New Zealand farm dog, chasing rabbits each day!

The highlight of being back in New Zealand was, of course, seeing friends and family again, and feeling close to them as the world goes through this hard time. New Zealand is in a good position, and I am proud of the effort we all made to get to where we are at this point in time.

Times up, back to Fiji

The Cable family waiting to board at Auckland Airport in New Zealand.

The Cable family waiting to board at
Auckland Airport in New Zealand.

Living in limbo was the hardest part. We really needed to get back to Fiji for Geoff’s work, and our boys’ schooling and closed borders have made life very difficult.

We have been strong advocates for a Pacific bubble, as many Pacific countries such as Fiji are doing really well managing the pandemic and are in a similar state to New Zealand, being COVID-contained.

Our great hope is that New Zealand agrees to a travel bubble arrangement with some of the Pacific Islands soon. They deserve it and really need it.

Travelling internationally is of course much more difficult now. Fiji opened its borders to resident and work permit holders and we began preparing to return.

We had to pass a COVID test before we travelled, we also needed to get the Ministry of Health and Immigration Fiji permission to enter the country. And then we had to commit to a 14-day quarantine on arrival and will have another COVID test on day 12 of quarantine.

Being non-Fijian citizens, the cost of quarantine in Fiji falls on us (which we expected and agree is fair). I was very nervous about going through the airports and onto a plane, as this is really the only place my family could be exposed to coronavirus.

However in actuality, on the day of travel, we felt very safe.

There were no queues at the airport in either New Zealand or Fiji. Self-distancing was very easy. Arrivals and Departures are kept very separate. It was not a full plane, so we had no one sitting near us. Duty free was closed (except for one small store), and the whole airport experience felt very surreal. In Fiji, they let us off the plane in small groups of 10.

The welcoming committee in Fiji was fantastic. As soon as we got off the plane we were met by the military who held our names on a piece of paper.

They smiled when they saw us, and welcomed us back home! It felt so good to be greeted so warmly. Jackson said he felt very safe with all the military and Police there.

Escorted for home quarantine

We were the very first people in Fiji to be approved for home quarantine, and so military personnel escorted us all the way from the airport, two and half hours to Pacific Harbour.

The military has set up a tent outside our home and will be there for the whole 14 days to ensure we stick to the quarantine rules.

We are also met daily by a Ministry of Health team who check our health. We will be model guarantees and hope that others get the opportunity to also home quarantine.

Both the military and the health team have been amazing. They take their jobs seriously and are very careful, but at the same time, have been friendly and welcoming.

Great assurance

Their processes have assured us that Fiji is in very good hands, and have handled this pandemic as well as any country in the world can – and better than most. The health team had to go from handling a measles outbreak, straight into managing a coronavirus pandemic, and they are front-line heroes. We are very, very thankful and proud of the effort Fiji has made.

So, we are now in quarantine enjoying more family time. It has not been an easy time, and I do feel for people in isolation hotels all around the world. The anxiety builds up, and it can be hard to unwind.

We are in our own lovely home and yet have had to really support each other as a family to cope with quarantine life as well as dealing with the anxiety of the last few months.

The kids have had a few tearful moments, and it is no wonder, given the upheaval they have been put through. Yet, kids are amazingly resilient and are already bouncing back. We are doing things to make quarantine fun – just like we had to in lockdown in New Zealand. We have had camping nights in the living room, basketball competitions, board games, and boot-camp sessions. We have introduced a routine, with the kids doing online correspondence school and Geoff and I still working online.

We have an amazing community in Pacific Harbour. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to our friendly neighbours who have offered and have been dropping us off groceries and meals. Groceries are dropped off to the military tent out front, and the military guards call out to us and leave the groceries beside our gate so we can retrieve them – all contactless.

The cost of quarantine

As this pandemic continues, I hope that people remember to be kind to each other. I have seen fear create divisiveness, as people naturally want to keep themselves safe.

In New Zealand, there seems to be a growing resentment toward returning New Zealand citizens, nurtured by a media who like to highlight bad news about those in quarantine.

The cost of quarantine is talked about daily in the news as if returning New Zealand citizens are somehow less worthy of support than other New Zealanders. Fear has been drip-fed to us daily, and it has created a climate of uncertainty.

But it is a time to ask ourselves, what kind of people do we want to be, and when we look back at this time of adversity in our lives, how did we respond? With empathy or with unkindness fueled by fear? I think and hope most will choose to be the kind people New Zealanders are known to be.

God bless my two home countries, Fiji and New Zealand.

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper