Recently life has been a little marred with illness…that of the kind so many in our country are fighting and have been affected by. The kind that if left untreated or worse yet, mistreated, can have harrowing and even fatal results. Yes, Dengue has invaded every crevice, nook and cranny of our country and has [...]


The importance of being earnest…and committed


Recently life has been a little marred with illness…that of the kind so many in our country are fighting and have been affected by. The kind that if left untreated or worse yet, mistreated, can have harrowing and even fatal results. Yes, Dengue has invaded every crevice, nook and cranny of our country and has turned into a menace of epic proportions with a nation now living in constant fear of a mosquito bite.

Despite taking so many preventative measures, Dengue found its way into our lives too. First it was my husband who fell prey to it and most recently it was our four- year-old daughter, who was only just discharged from the hospital. In the case of our daughter, we learnt from the mistakes with my husband, and went for a blood test the day she started running a fever. When the results came back positive for Dengue, we took immediate action and perhaps that was one of the reasons we had a good result and in many ways, things were less frightening than they could have been. With my husband, being an adult, and having that mistaken and foolish belief that somehow Dengue wouldn’t – couldn’t – affect our lives, we took our time. By the time we got round to a blood test, he was already in the phase of having a relapse of Dengue. It was surely the excellent medical care/supervision he received from our favoured hospital SJGH, total bed rest and a little bit of luck that had him come home sooner rather than later and without any further complications. With so much awareness about this dreaded disease, how is it, that we are still plagued by it and worse yet, that even those of us who consider ourselves ‘informed’ members of society, are still falling prey to it…and sometimes even delay giving it the necessary attention….delay which in some cases has proven to be unnecessarily fatal.

As mothers we are always checking on the well-being of our children. We diligently apply  mosquito repellents that we feel are as natural as possible; we warn our children about being aware of mosquitos and pools of stagnant water, we even go so far as to keep them indoors these days. No more exposure to outside play and freedom in the garden as afternoon sets in, for fear of mosquitos deciding to snack on their little legs.

So what more can we do, to do our bit to fight the good fight towards curtailing the menacing mosquito that is causing such disease and heartache all over our fair island? There are the obvious preventative methods – clearing out stagnant water bodies, have a clean home environment, applying repellent, wearing protective clothing, keeping the kids indoors during the twilight hours. However, is this enough and if so, why is it still such a growing problem in the country? Is it just coincidence, that Dengue appears to be the most widespread in the city and outskirts of Colombo itself. Is it time we asked ourselves, if this is occurring because we as citizens, are not taking enough effective steps to curtail it? Whilst we complain about the collection of garbage, some of us still resist and protest about the manner in which we are now asked to dispose of our garbage. If the act of organising and separating one’s own waste is too inconvenient, how on earth can we expect the country and the streets to be kept as clean as they should be?

The way I see it, the most effective method for cleaning up the city and with that removing breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other diseases, is to take responsibility for it ourselves. To be proactive in cleaning out the yoghurt cups or bird baths collecting water in our own homes, schools and surrounding areas. To do so on a regular basis, because it is the right thing – the essential thing – to do, rather than doing it because the public health inspector is due to visit that week. To be committed to separating paper, plastic and metal, to dispose of our organic material and food waste separately and perhaps most importantly to do something we all think we should be doing, but often forget to get round to doing: Stop using plastic bags. These once indispensable non bio-degradable receptacles which not only clog up the seas and waterways but collect water themselves if left unattended and spread disease. It was with delight that I listened to plans by the government to ban the use of plastic bags and a sense of hope when I first learnt of the new garbage disposal system. It is high time we caught up with our more environmentally conscious counterparts in the world. My hope is that the change is embraced positively and happily as a step being taken in the right direction by a country that has for too long let things just run out of sheer lack of interest in changing it, rather than perhaps any malicious intent not to do so.

The desire to do right by our children, our families and by our country, comes not necessarily from a sense of patriotic purpose but also by that of inherent parental purpose. We should try to be of the mindset that to make a small change within ourselves, will lead to bigger changes overall. That when we lead by example of living in a clean home environment, we also inspire our children to do the same and we make it a normal practice in their lives to do the same, habits that carry on well into adulthood. Such as using re-useable bags when doing the shopping and appropriate disposal of garbage.

The impact our actions – as mothers and the primary female influence in the lives of our young – have on the lives of our offspring is monumental. Even if it does not appear to be so during the early years, it becomes a blueprint for functionality when they are older. Constantly reinforcing the need to take responsibility for their own actions and for the betterment of society and the greater good of humanity as a whole has a staggering effect on the planet as a whole and will surely be felt by generations to come.

Teaching ourselves to be as earnestly committed, even as we teach our children to be so, and to take care and take responsibility to be better citizens is surely a step in the right direction…A positive step towards clearing out our lives and country of garbage and disease, and probably the only long term solution to finding a way out of this bottomless pit of mosquito and mess.

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