The Sri Lankan health and government authorities have continued to give hope to the people during this pandemic. According to the authorities we are not far away from heading back to work; even if it happens with limited batches being granted permission to leave home for work. While the COVID-19 controlling process continues effectively another factor which has made Sri Lanka subject to praise is the lion heart it has shown to accept the arrival of returnees from foreign countries.
These arrivals underscore the fact that Sri Lanka is one of the safest countries to reside in during a life threatening pandemic such as the coronavirus.
Just a few days ago the Sri Lankan authorities accepted a batch of over 200 students who were stranded in England. Though England was a sought after country by the ambitious and the educated before this pandemic, the questionable approach to providing health facilities during COVID-19 in the land of the ‘queen’ subsequently made the Great Britain subject to much criticism.
The stories we hear about how the sick are treated in England and America during this pandemic make Sri Lanka a heaven on earth.
The returnees must take to heart that there is no place like home. Much of these return journeys have been facilitated by president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The people at these quarantine centres must reflect on the thought that they left ‘home’ once upon a time in search of greener pastures. But many are the lessons that an individual can learn from a challenging time like this. One of the most important lessons is that the Sri Lankan authorities will never forget their countrymen; regardless of where they are scattered around the world.
It may be a bit hard to stomach the fact, if reminded to them, that these returnees found the countries they migrated to to be more attractive to live in compared to Sri Lanka. But the island has remained a place with that ‘human touch’. And what more can one expect when the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) accepts with open arms those who once said goodbye to this nation for personal gains.
We hear that the GoSL has plans of bringing down another set of students stranded in the UK. It is also reported that the Sri Lankan authorities have been approached to facilitate the return of as many as 600 workers stranded in Kuwait. When other nations have closed their borders to restrict returnees Sri Lanka has done well to accept worthy arrivals and keep the death total down to a bare minimum.
The Sri Lankan authorities have been good enough to grant these returnees permission to put up at hotels instead at the quarantine centres which offer a comfortable stay. But those who have already had the experience of staying at quarantine centres maintained by the security forces have nothing but praise for the facilities provided to them. Many were heard making comments like ‘the stay was akin to enjoying a holiday at the expense of the state’.
Sri Lanka has done its part both for its citizens and those who returned from overseas due to the pandemic. The majority of the returnees from abroad might want to return to the countries which they migrated to once this pandemic is controlled. A small percentage of them might want to remain here in this island.
The best thing that happened out of this COVID-19 pandemic is that it helped Sri Lanka underscore the fact that it is a hospitable nation. The spirit in which the islanders opened their arms and welcomed back those who left these shores was extended to other nonnationals who were stranded in ships close to Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka has a lion heart, a lion flag and has shown the courage of a lion to stand tall and be counted when most nations have crumbled due to the coronavirus.