This is ‘Guava season’ for us: a time of harsh realities, of economic difficulty, of deprivation and sacrifice. It is also a time of distress globally, with destructive storms, war, famine, and drought.
Yet, despite it all, it is also a time to reflect on the bounties that are offered to us once we can recognise them. Powerless to change the situations that distress us, we can, nevertheless, change our perspective on them and assert some dominance over them.
Our national budget has elicited cries of increased suffering from many sectors of the population. Utility rates and the prices of food, fuel, transport, and even simple entertainment have risen, and the earnings of lower and middle-income earners cannot be stretched any further.
Adjustments and sacrifices are called for, but we cry aloud as to how much more we can bear.
It is instructive to see how one organisation, the Estate Police Association (EPA), has already taken steps to relieve some degree of financial stress on its members. Buying food in bulk from local suppliers, the EPA is able to offer its members basic food items at a lower cost.
This initiative will not just reduce, to some extent, the grocery bills of members but it also offers the emotional comfort that comes with knowing that they do not stand alone in their need.
It is a form of ‘gayap’, a practice perhaps long forgotten, in which a community pooled its resources and through which houses were built, fields were cleared for planting, and no one stood alone.
Typical of early Christianity, this practical method of sharing ‘wealth’ of one kind or another and fulfilling the basic needs of the community is well worth our consideration.
Similarly, with horrendous traffic on our roads, the soaring costs of vehicle maintenance and the emotional toll of hours spent at the beginning and end of the workday in our daily commute, neighbours can look at ride-sharing as one solution to this problem.
In addition to the frustration stemming from poorly maintained roads and highways, drivers and their passengers have to contend with irresponsible and downright dangerous driving from those of us who feel we have the ‘right’ to change lanes without indicating, to drive on the shoulder to get ahead of others and to blow the horn impatiently at any perceived hesitation on the part of other drivers.
This calls for strict enforcement of the country’s laws since such bullying and criminal attitudes will be almost impossible to change otherwise.
An alternative form of transportation can be one answer to the traffic nightmare. We are blessed to have a public bus system which offers fares that are cheap, and which is already used by school children, university students and a growing number of mainly older adults.
It is imperative, however, that if this service is to be used for travel on a regular basis, the buses must be clean, well-maintained, reliable and run to schedule. When we emigrate to countries where the bus and rail systems are used by all classes and sectors of those societies, we fall in line too.
Surely, we can use our own nationally owned Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC), provided that it meets the highest standards of mass transit. A budget-friendly and safe bus service will minimise pollution and stress, a boon to the whole nation.
The scourge of crime continues to bedevil our nation and we see that much of the criminal activity is carried out by young people. As tragic as this is, we must also recognise the tremendous contributions made by the young men and women in our school, church, and neighbourhood communities.
It is easy to lose sight of the good when evil seems to dominate but there are many unsung heroes among our youth.
Like the leper who remembered to return to thank Jesus and “to praise God at the top of his voice”, let us continue to trust in the goodness and mercy of our God. For all that they may be maligned, guavas are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, and fibre!