The power of unity and cooperation

Syazwani Hj Rosli

Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in the country, people from all walks of life have come forward with contributions to help the government, especially the Ministry of Health (MoH), in curtailing the spread of the virus.

At the start of the crisis, the country was faced with a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers due to panic buying of the items among members of the public to ward off the novel coronavirus.

In response, several companies, organisations, associations, businesses and charitable groups sourced for the increasingly elusive PPE, comprising N95 respirators, scrubs, face masks, face shields, hand sanitisers and medical gloves, in ensuring that the frontliners had sufficient protective gear to keep them from harm’s way.

Others went a step further by producing face shields and masks themselves to replenishing the dwindling supply of PPE, especially at the beginning of the outbreak.

The country also saw endless donations of pre-packed meals for the frontliners who had to work around the clock to fight the spread of the coronavirus, along with other basic essentials such as biscuits, instant noodles and canned drinks.

Members of the public donate essential items to the Ministry of Health. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

To ensure the donations were received and distributed fairly, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam consented to the setting up of the COVID-19 Relief Fund on March 21 allowing for contributions from companies and members of the public.

The announcement was responded with an outpouring of donations from organisations, associations, companies and individuals across the country that were in full support of the government’s fight against the outbreak.

The initial plan was for the MoH to raise BND4 million; but the amount soon surpassed the goal, which allowed the ministry to purchase equipment and other key essentials for the COVID-19 fight.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah in a May 8 statement said, “We are contemplating using the fund for the new NIC that costs over BND11 million to construct.

“Should this fund exceed the cost of building, it can then be used to fund for the new NIC. It would be welcoming news to the public that the new NIC was funded from the COVID-19 Relief Fund.”

As of June 14, the minister announced that the COVID-19 Relief Fund exceeded BND14 million, and that the COVID-19 Relief Fund Committee had prepared a list of medical equipment including the items needed for the National Isolation Centre (NIC) in Tutong District.

It is truly touching and inspiring to see both locals and foreigners residing in the country band together for a single cause – to assist the government in eradicating the novel coronavirus that has brought the world to its knees. The health crisis has brought to light the unity and cooperation that has always existed in the country; and in this unprecedented crisis, the power of charity in surviving through the most difficult of times.