Gone are the blissful nights of sleeping. Tossing and turning becomes the new sleeping pattern. As the rooster crows and the sun rises, a feeling of dread will wash over Rosie.
Rosie Kulumani is a 56 years old widow living in the city of Honiara. Today Rosie is unemployed because of COVID-19.
Despite not recording a confirmed case of COVID-19, Solomon Islanders are feeling the repercussions of the pandemic at a drastic level.
Rosie is a widow and has five children. Though some of her children are old enough to earn money to assist her, financially dependent on someone for her livelihood is not something Rosie is used to.
She resides at the Number Three area, close to the Mataniko River. Before COVID-19, Rosie is living a life dreamt by most Honiara residents.
Her workplace is just within walking distance and she does not need to catch a public transport to go to the office, or the market or even into town.
Life was just near perfect and she seemed to enjoy it. But all these came to a stop when the COVID-19 became a pandemic and most economic activities came to a grinding halt.
“The struggle I face every day is a nightmare. I had not expected this to happen in my entire life,” Rosie said.
For more than 15 years, Rosie worked as a janitor at the Development Services Exchange (DSE).
She was so used to this routine, that the absence of going to work is starting to drain her emotionally.
She has no money and has been on unpaid leave for two months now and the future is looking very bleak for her.
“I woke up every morning thinking of what the day will bring as I have no money in my pocket. But despite having nothing I still have the support of my kids as some of them are working and they can help me,” Rosie said.
She added that there is only so much her children can do for her. Like providing food for her when they have their fortnight salaries. Otherwise, she will just make do with root crops and bananas that she was able to find. Sometimes she goes to sleep with only a cup of tea as her dinner.
“Every day I have this feeling of hopelessness even if I had a good dinner, lunch or breakfast”, Rosie said.
“This is because tomorrow, there will be nothing for me,” she said.
As the coronavirus pandemic rapidly sweeps across the world there are concerns that the emotional toll on will continue to rise, and if left unchecked could potentially lead to psychological illness. This is more so for older adults, those that have been used to earning and fending for themselves.
For Rosie, her source of comfort was through voluntary work.
She was an active campaigner on issues that she thought was important. This includes the fight against corruption - particularly the 2017 "Bring it Back" campaign that pushed for the Anti-corruption bill.
“No matter I never get paid for it I still love what I do.”
Rosie said that the past 15 years has been a blessing, she enjoyed her work – even planted a few cassava gardens around the office area just to make use of her day.
Currently Rosie is looking forward to receiving her money from the National Provident Fund (NPF).
She said she wants to renovate her house.
“I also wish there are no market bans so that I can make use of my money to start any income generating activity on a low scale, suitable for people like us”, she said.
Rosie just handed in her application to withdraw her NPF and hopes to receive it soon.
“I really need my money to rebuild my house and to start finding ways to generate something out of the money from NPF”, she said.
Being a grandmother, Rosie also supports her grandchildren in their education. She said since schools will start soon, she will not be able to support her grandchildren the way she usually does even though her salary was small.
She said it is not her fault she lost her income.
“I will make sure I have something on my table before I go to sleep though it may be small or big to ensure that I keep going until everything resumes as normal” she said.