𝐂𝐚𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝐛𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨? My name is Makhicia Brooks, I’m 31, and I’m the managing director here at the Sint Maarten Development Fund. SMDF is a social development agency, and we do that in two ways. We are executing social projects and programs. For example, after Irma, we did home repairs, right now we’re doing a project called community spaces, where we create social outdoor spaces where people can gather. In addition to that, we do social development financing. So, we try to get funds and donations and put that back into the community, transparently and responsibly. I really enjoy being outside, because I spend so much time inside. I love reading and I enjoy just, exploring.
𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐝 𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐜 𝐚𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞? The ability to explore, I love traveling, but I haven’t left the island in over a year. And that has been one of my biggest challenges, not being able to just go to Statia or Anguilla to visit family because of concerns of having to quarantine, or being trapped abroad. Traveling is definitely one thing that I’m passionate about, and Covid has taken that from me. Covid also made it more difficult to spend time with loved ones. A good example is my dad. My dad is my first love and turns 72 this week, but I have not gotten a hug from him for over a year. In the pandemic, I would go over but I would stay on the porch. He would be in the kitchen and we talked through a door. That was probably one of the most difficult parts for me. It made me realize just how physical we are as human beings and human interaction until it is no longer there. Professionally it was having to alter the way we work overnight. So, before our office would be filled with people, and we always had an open-door policy. Even regular persons who were having some difficulties or need some advice would come in and we would talk with them and try to help them out. That hasn’t been the same and they’re not used to the door being closed. Also, because we have such a small staff, every time there is a concern about someone being out ill, that creates a lot of worries. Fortunately, there is technology, so we now use WhatsApp to talk to clients and email more but that was a very rapid overnight change.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞? My main reason is for the people around me to be quite honest. I'm relatively healthy. While I was very conscious and aware of the potential threats physically to COVID, I'm taking it more for my parents and loved ones around me. Additionally, I'm taking it for my community. I believe that the fewer active cases we have on Sint Maarten, the more likely it will be that more tourists feel comfortable coming here again, which means more spending, and more people having jobs again. I'm looking forward to us going back to the stronger physical contact that a lot of us are craving. I have a lot of loved ones or friends who have partners and loved ones with pre-existing conditions. So, I think the vaccine isn't solely about us as individuals, but it's also about us as communities. And how do we make decisions that benefit as many people in our communities?
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞? I would say, monitor science and, listen to the experts. One of the challenges with 24-hour news cycles and social media is that everything is presently available. And, it's so much easier for us to jump on the very bad part of the story. There is one tiny dark cloud, Oh, it was a terrible day. I support freedom of speech but be critical of what is being said and also where it's coming from. I'm not a medical expert, so I rely on the medical advice of experts, just like I rely on financial experts. And also let's look at the majority and the minority. Because yes, there have been people who have had not-the-best responses after getting the vaccine. But the question is: Is that the majority or a very minuscule minority? Nothing in life is riskless. So, if 99% is a success, you have to ask yourself, am I really going to be in the one percent that 1%?