President: Selflessness helped Trinidad and Tobago weather 2021 storms

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


File photo: President Paula-Mae Weekes. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

President Paula-Mae Weekes is commending people who chose to be compassionate to others and selfless despite the challenges of 2021.

In her New Year’s message, Weekes applauded the heroic efforts of healthcare workers, businesses that supported the national vaccination programme and people who complied with the basic covid19 preventative measures.

She said, “Incredible acts of selflessness were and are still being demonstrated by our frontline healthcare workers.

“Gruelling shifts, psychological trauma and vulnerability to contracting the disease were par for the course, and yet they soldiered on for the good of us all.”

As well as healthcare workers, she pointed out, “Many good Samaritans emerged, including the Bilda Boyz who thoughtfully provided chairs and tents for weary vaccination-seekers.”

But while Weekes commended the heroic actions of some, she chastised “those that didn’t give a damn about others and apparently even about themselves.”

A disappointed Weekes said many people faked vaccination cards and flouted the basic anti-covid19 measures to cram stores for bargain sales, for example.

She urged, “It goes without saying which attitudes need to be left behind and which go forward. We would do well to pay close attention to the warning to be found in the covid19 death count, especially over the last few months.”

With the Health Ministry’s data showing 86.8 per cent (8,973 of 10,336) of patients entering the parallel healthcare system between July 22 and December 15 were not fully vaccinated, Weekes also called on people to get vaccinated.

“It is a fact we ignore to our peril. Our personal actions and behaviours are inextricably linked to the future of our nation. The writing is on the wall.”

Quoting the Prime Minister’s viral quip, Weekes added, “Yuh big and yuh have sense.”

Apart from battling covid19, Weekes said, in 2021 the country “weathered” constitutional conundrums and recorded an unacceptable murder toll.

She mourned the death of three children in a house fire at Rookery Nook, Maraval, and the murder of prison officers Trevor Serrette and Nigel Jones.

But even in those tragic moments, Weekes pointed out that kindness often prevailed, as she applauded the man who comforted Jones’s daughter, at the Fyzabad taxi stand in Siparia after he was shot.

She went on, “We recognise the civic-mindedness of the Hunters Search and Rescue Team which altruistically assists law enforcement in searching for missing persons, the citizen who instinctively protected and comforted a young girl at the scene of the murder of her father and the countless, nameless others who operate quietly in their sphere to alleviate the distress of others.”

Weekes is calling on people to commit to living purposefully, intentionally, unselfishly and joyously in 2022. In doing so, she said the country will be able to achieve peace and prosperity.

“Last year was by some accounts, an
annus horribilis – a year of disaster and misfortune, with more hardship, illness and death than at any time in recent memory.

“But in justifiable haste to put the old year in the rear-view mirror,” she warned, “be careful not to throw out the champagne with the cork.

“Individually and collectively, we must revisit the occurrences and experiences of the past year – and there were good ones tucked in between – in order to extract the salutary lessons that can serve as cautionary tale, constructive model or source of inspiration.”