I want to begin by reassuring you all that COVID-19’s hold over Fiji will dissipate. It will weaken. And the light at the end of the tunnel will glow brighter and brighter.
For us let us recall together that light broke through some of the darkest moments in the history of our country because we Fijians stood united. Even in division, we conquered.
We chose to look on the brighter side despite the challenges, despite the crisis, despite the chaos that had gripped our country in times past.
We chose to believe that in the midst of every crisis lies great opportunities. It was in that belief that propelled me to implement changes that has altered the economic, social, and environmental landscape of our country for the benefit of every ordinary Fijian – for your benefit. And we are still in the business of implementing changes as we tackle this new normal forced upon us by COVID-19.
As a person of faith, I rely less on my ability, but more on God’s strength to carry me through. I recall some famous stories from the Bible that continue to be my beacon of hope. The hope that I want to share with you this morning. The hope that in the midst of chaos, there is opportunity.
When Moses and the Israelites were stuck between the invading army of Pharaoh and the Red Sea, he looked to the heavens and with God’s guidance, Israel was saved. Moses told them not to fear, but to stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord.
I mentioned last week that I will not be bullied by fear. And nothing has changed. I will continue to stand firm and am confident that I will not be denied my salvation from this crisis.
You will not be denied your salvation. Fiji will not be denied its salvation from COVID-19.
I say this because we – Fiji – have mastered difficulties before. We mastered those difficulties and we won opportunities.
But as always, we continue to hear the voice of doubt. We continue to see the emergence of false prophets who are bent on stopping our progress.
Some point fingers at our frontliners, at our Disciplined Forces.
Some have questioned our decision to lift movements around Fiji, even though they will all be done under very strict COVID-safe protocols.
Some have questioned the efficacy of the vaccine.
They see difficulties in every opportunity to set us free.
But I see opportunity in every difficulty. Opportunity to protect you. Opportunity to safeguard you. Opportunity to make you flourish under these difficult circumstances.
When the outbreak this year started, we were swift to advise villages to implement lockdown measures, including no maritime movements. With the growing confidence that your well-being was secure, I decided to ease maritime movements. It was a small window of opportunity. And let me tell you something.
Given this opportunity, 12 yaqona farmers from Koro partnered with Taki Mai which earned them $34,056.
In the midst of COVID-19, they saw an opportunity to earn. They were visionary. They had the foresight. They had a positive attitude. And more importantly, they believed.
We can grab that same attitude instead of limiting ourselves to others’ views and comments.
Recently, a video went viral in which a pretender argued against the vaccine. While it goes without saying that the Police are onto her for the lies propagated in that video, I want to tell you, do not fear. No amount of her lies will change the truth that the vaccine is effective.
She has nothing to show for her claims. And she will soon be made to answer.
Some feedback we received, especially from the villages, is that we are protected by God. I don’t deny this and no one can. To deny God is unforgiveable.
But let me ask you a few questions.
If your bicycle breaks down, do you take it to a mechanic or wait for God to perform a miracle and heal it?
If the roof of your house develops a leak, do you wait on God to mend it, or do you fix it yourself?
God is just as capable of repairing a bicycle or mending a roof as he is of healing our bodies.
The fact that God can and does perform miracles does not mean that we should always expect a miracle.
We should seek help from those with the knowledge and skill to assist us.
For COVID-19, it is the vaccine. Doctors all over the world put their minds together and shortened the timeline given to produce the vaccine.
God created them as intelligent beings.
He gave them the ability to create medicine and repair our bodies.
Doctors are one of the ways in which God brings healing and recovery.
Israel is back to normal because of the vaccine.
We too can do it, if we are vaccinated.
If you are passionate about Israel – biblical and modern – be passionate about their respect for the vaccine. Get your jab.
Your blood will not be in my hands if COVID-19 claims your life because I have conveyed to you the truth about the vaccine.
Like Moses and the Israelites, stand and see the salvation of the Lord. He has come down to us – to be amongst us. And He has inspired doctors to give us the best treatment about COVID-19.
The vaccination is an opportunity in the midst of this crisis. Do not hold back. Grab it.
There are other opportunities at this time – big and small. This week, an ATM was installed at the Sawani shopping centre. After weeks of being stuck at the Sawani border because the people of Naitasiri could not cross over to the Nausori containment area, BSP installed the ATM in Sawani. This will ease the difficulties faced by thousands of Naitasiri people – they can now withdraw at Sawani and do their shopping.
I had already mentioned two Sundays ago that my Government is about serving the people of Fiji. This difficulty has forced us to be innovative and serve Fiji better.
Naitasiri is now better than before.
You too will be better than before.
Your faith in us will be rewarded.
Keep believing in our plans.
While protecting you, they are also meant to make you see the opportunities.
The opportunity to spend time on other things – spend time with your family.
The opportunity to reset, reflect and reconsider what we do, how we do it and why we do it.
The opportunity for our Bose Vanua to address issues that have been affecting our villages for too long.
The opportunity to listen to our elders – vanua Leaders, Church Leaders and Government Leaders.
The opportunity for our environment to recover – for our natural resources to recover.
The opportunity to better utilise our land – plow the fields.
The opportunity to venture into commercial business
– maximizing our God given talents
The opportunity for our children to learn the basic necessities of life while staying at home – cooking, farming, weaving.
The opportunity for us to do communal work together while observing COVID-safe protocols.
Be the opportunity. Reconnect with your friends, with your families.
We are a vast ocean – an ocean of opportunities. Many things are uncharted in the ocean. Our 147 years of history knows that. Our ancestors knew it.
I know it because I love the ocean. We are a seafaring nation. If we can brave a rough ocean, whose winds are not seen, we can also brave the strategies of containing COVID-19 – our unseen enemy.
Our containment measures will calm the storm of COVID-19.
These measures are not about lifting the lockdown, or removing borders, or joining Lami-Suva-Nausori. It is about us following the COVID-safe measures.
Social distancing. No social gathering. Wash your hands regularly. Wear your masks all the time.
And don’t forget your dose of vaccine.
Keep the faith Fiji. See the opportunity in every difficulty.
Thank you and God bless you all.
God bless Fiji.