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  • Nigel Akuani

Covid Surge linked to rise in Violence

Port Moresby: The increase in Covid cases amidst the pandemic has triggered a noticeable rise in violence here in Papua New Guinea.

The undeniable finding was coherently presented by five students from La Salle Technical College (LSTC) during their appearance on the Chat Room of Wednesday 6th April 2022.

The students studying for the National Certificate 1 under the programs of Office Administration, Information Technology, and Tourism Hospitality, spoke on the topic ‘Overcoming war on Covid and Violence’.

Their discussion highlighted features that made the pandemic almost like a war; pandemic’s resemblance as an act of violence; explanation of Covid as an ‘Unseen Enemy’; Covid Pandemic and Russian-Ukraine battle as a war on Two-Fronts; forms of violence caused by the pandemic; effect of social media and spike in misinformation; social impact on families and communities; and a call for parents and adults to support and engage youth in awareness on the harms of ‘Pandemic-instigated violence’.

Christina Heveapu, an Office Administration student, urged society not to take the pandemic lightly by intentionally disregarding the safety measures in place. “Covid is a transmittable virus that does not discriminate and targets all people. Elderly people are more vulnerable and it is our responsibility as responsible young individuals to do the right thing,” she said.

She further said, “Judging from the 6-million people who died from contracting the virus within 2021, it cannot be denied that Covid is ‘violent’ by nature, and the worst part of all is that it is an enemy we cannot see. For this reason, on an individual level, we have to take precautions by adhering to the safety rules and regulations imposed by our government Health Officials.”

In her explanation of the virus as an ‘unseen enemy’, Tourism and Hospitality student, Mary Koava, said that the virus’s deadly abilities were microscopic and remained unseen to the human eyes. “This is the nature of the invisible enemy, it forces us to treat everyone we see as an enemy because they might be unwittingly harbouring the enemy. The virus remains entirely imperceptible even too many people who are actually infected with it,” she stated.

“Though we cannot see it, its effects in our lives are evident. Across PNG there is now a growing rate of unemployment, a rise in petty crime, depression, hunger, violence in relationships, superstitious beliefs that deaths are caused by ‘Sanguma’ leading to gender-based violence and Sorcery Accusation Related Violence,” she emphasized.

Undertaking Information Technology, Trisha Boga, told of her personal ordeal when the pandemic first hit the country, and admitted that it did have a significant toll on her education. “We were required to collect notes and assignments from school, and return back home to study. This was a big obstacle because the environment at home was not the same as that in school, and the focus that is needed in studies, from peers, and the supervision from teachers were all absent,” she said.

Making a call to youth and the general public, Information Technology student, David Ravu, implored for the wise use of modern technology in creating and sharing information. “We will only overcome this pandemic and the havoc it is causing by working together responsibly and in unison. This means funds and equipment approved at the level of government needs to tangibly trickle down to the lower levels of all society, he said.

Jude Pukohup, Student-Animator of LSTC, said he was impressed by the students’ intellectual conversation on the topic and urged the young generation to use knowledge to inform and help society progress forward during troublesome times. We are grateful to Water Aid for supporting the program.

Chat Room on 13th April, will have students from De La Salle Secondary School discuss ‘Mobile Phones Should Be Banned in All Schools’.

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