Solidarity strong in fighting COVID-19

In just a few weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak in Brunei has altered the lives of everyone. The outbreak has driven all to make unprecedented changes, challenged the medical services, moved children to virtual learning and resulted in the implementation of temporary monetary and fiscal measures, and restriction on travel and social activities.

In the face of adversity across the country, Brunei’s community spirit reverberates, pulling together to flatten the curve of COVID-19. Individuals, businesses, students and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are combining forces to support healthcare workers on the frontlines and the others in need.

In the spirit of solidarity, Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP), under the #BSPCares initiative, studied ways of helping the healthcare system, the frontline workers and the community. This is to supplement the initiatives carried out by other organisations.

Although #BSPCares is a company-led initiative, it also gives full empowerment for staff to contribute to a good cause.

BSP Managing Director Dr Ceri M Powell said, “The response from the staff to the relief efforts is truly heart-warming and defines our human spirit. This really shows the strength of our #BSPCares spirit, showcasing our focus on fuelling Brunei’s future whilst caring today.”

One of the major efforts in BSP was the #100beds campaign for the newly built National Isolation Centre in Tutong. The campaign was open to all staff, family members and friends, and was also an opportunity for Muslim staff to participate as part of their Waqaf Within 24 hours, staff contributed a 110 beds, exceeding its initial 100 beds target.

A collective effort from BSP and Brunei Shell Marketing Company Sdn Bhd (BSM) also saw the contribution of BND50,000 in fuel vouchers for the use of Medical Emergency/Critical vehicles and services under the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The BSPCares initiative studies ways of easing the healthcare system, the frontline workers and the community. PHOTOS: BSP
ABOVE & BELOW: Photos show people banding together, each playing a role in helping the country in times of crisis

In a crisis, there is also an opportunity for meaningful collaborations. Livewire AgroBiz and IBTE School of Hospitality and Tourism worked together to prepare hot meals daily for the healthcare frontliners using locally grown pesticide-free rice from the AgroBiz first harvest. This initiative is a small way of thanking the healthcare workers for their hard work and commitment in managing the outbreak.

The Sembada188 rice was harvested recently and is a successful outcome of the AgroBiz Padi Agropreneur Scheme by Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) and supported by LiveWIRE Brunei. Aside from contributing to the greater good, it is also an opportunity for the students to hone their culinary skills, to be more creative and improve their techniques.

LiveWIRE Brunei Chairperson Hajah Rosita binti Haji Hassan said, “LiveWIRE AgroBiz is so grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to frontline workers. Some 600kgs of rice from the AgroBiz first harvest at the IBTE Agro-Technology Campus in Wasan is used to prepare 300 hot meals daily. The food is prepared by the IBTE student chefs at the IBTE School of Hospitality and Tourism central kitchen in Jalan Muara.”

Even in the time of crisis, it is important to take some time out, to have a sanctuary where frontline workers can gather their thoughts, pray and rest. It is critical to support them to work safely. BSP set up essential amenities such as wall panels, folding tables and chairs, shelves and biohazard bins for healthcare frontline in Bandar Seri Begawan and in Tutong. Staff also contributed necessities to other hospitals such as the Suri Seri Begawan Hospital in Kuala Belait.

While there are relief efforts for the healthcare frontlines, departments and staff networks within BSP such as the graduates network ‘Generate’ have reached out to vulnerable communities, visited their homes and delivered essential items such as food items, hygiene and care items.

BSP staff volunteers have also connected with schools to provide a range of school supplies, aimed to facilitate the transition to online learning and teaching considering school closures due to COVID-19.

As COVID-19 continues to impact communities across the country, BSP puts priority on the safety and health of its people and the nation, along with the safe operation of all its businesses. Like the heroic frontline teams in the Ministry of Health, BSP has its role to play – to continue powering the country’s hospitals, telecommunications, and homes. Now, more than ever, energy is needed to power the nation in these extraordinary times. This is the reason it continues to ensure the safe and reliable operation of assets while ensuring the safety of its people.

It is a challenging time for everyone; however, it is also about humanity rising to the occasion, standing in solidarity to keep the country safe from the further spread of COVID-19.