We look forward to the New Year with optimism
It is natural that in the waning moments of an old year that humankind would look forward to the approaching year with hope. It matters not what transpired in the 12 months just past. We seem hardwired as humans to regard the end of the year as a door we can slam shut on all that had gone wrong and the New Year as the opening of a window looking out onto a bright new dawn. Last year, we could not wait to joyously say goodbye to 2020, hoping that the year would take with it the fear, isolation, darkness and death that had come along with the coronavirus pandemic. And we had reason for our hope. It had been just over a year since we had become aware of the existence of the virus, vaccines were being administered in some countries and we were learning the best strategies for living safely with the virus. We hoped that the international flights and cruise ships would return, thus restoring the livelihoods of the thousands in the hospitality and related sectors who had been sidelined for months; and making the rest of the world accessible to our citizens for business and pleasure.
In other words, we hoped for a return to normalcy. Looking back at 2021, the reality is that St Vincent and the Grenadines lost over 80 souls to the pandemic, thousands more became infected and hundreds got very ill. Our volcano erupted, causing thousands of people to flee their homes and turning large swathes of the country temporarily into a dusty, grey wasteland. We learned the difference between effusive and explosive eruptions; “lahars” and “pyroclastic flows” became active parts of our vocabulary. Then came the extreme weather events that completed the destruction in the red zone areas left vulnerable by the eruptions of La Soufriere. Dengue fever continued its quiet onslaught, causing hospitalizations and frequent calls on social media for donations of blood. Our children’s education was a major casualty of the pandemic, made worse by the volcanic eruptions.
Learning hubs; distance and blended modes of delivery had to be employed when face-to-face classes in regular school buildings were not feasible; but still, too many of our students were left behind, particularly the younger children and those from disadvantaged homes. Several capital projects were delayed including the new Kingstown port and multiple hotel projects. Our economy contracted, and religious activities, sports and entertainment activities were curtailed. In so many ways, a horrible year. But yet, there was so much to be thankful for. Not a single life was lost during the eruption of La Soufriere, and with the help of the international community and Vincentians working together, we were able to meet the needs of all the persons who were displaced from their homes. Residents of the red zone have returned home although much infrastructural restorative work remains to be done there. One death from the coronavirus is one too many, but during 2021, vaccines became available, and although the uptake was disappointing, the vaccines helped to save lives and slow the spread of the virus. Our international airport is busy once more and the cruise ships have returned, at least for now. Despite the challenges of 2021, many of which will continue in 2022, we are optimistic about the New Year because we must. Hope gives us the capacity to imagine a better world, to map out the path that leads to solutions. Without hope we would inhabit a universe of despair and inaction. Hope unlocks fear, propels us forward, and re-affirms that we can find joy in this world. The Chairman, Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Interactive Media Limited therefore welcome the New Year with great hope and wish everyone health, joy, peace and abundance in 2022.