Updated: Jan 11
Check out the second Covid-19 Vaccine Interview with the President of the Positive Foundation of Sint Maarten: 𝐒𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐀𝐥𝐩𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐨!
𝐂𝐚𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐮𝐬 𝐚 𝐛𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨? My name is Shelly Alphonso, I am the President of the Positive Foundation, which I co-founded in 1998 with my sister. We launched the foundation to do health awareness for our community. Since then, we have become an organization that organizes a month-long campaign for breast cancer awareness. In 2019 we also added prostate cancer awareness to our repertoire, and we are partnering with the Elektralyets Foundation for more than a decade now.
I’m also the Accounts Receivable Executive Manager at NAGICO Insurances where I’m responsible for the accounts receivable in 21 Caribbean territories. In my free time, I love to go out dancing. If there is a little night spot or club with local music, you’ll probably find me there dancing. But since COVID I do not do that anymore. I had to find new things to do in my free time.
𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐃 𝐚𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐢𝐧 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞? Let’s start with work. I had to work from home a couple of times. This was very possible, but I did have to change my mindset. I never viewed my home as a place where I had to do my office work. I always see it as relaxing, comforting, fun, family, friends - never work. So, I had to first wrap my head around that concept. But once I did, I was able to and it turned out to be very possible for me to work quite effectively and efficiently from home. I’ve added exercise to my daily routine, which is something I’ve not been very fond of. But since COVID, it has become something that I’ve been doing more consistently. Still, can’t say that I love it, but in that sense, COVID wasn’t all bad ha-ha, ha-ha.
I’m still very careful about going out in public especially in places where people tend to gather in large groups. I’m very uncomfortable with that. Because I’m a hugger, I love to hug people, and that has been something that you just can’t do.
𝐒𝐨, 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐥 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧? From a work perspective, making payments online was a challenge for several people who were unfamiliar with online banking. I had to encourage a lot of people, by providing step by step instructions. Many of us are more comfortable doing our business face to face - this is how things basically get done on this beautiful Island of ours. The changes necessary to cope with challenges related to the pandemic, were very rapid and change is also never embraced – and fast changes resulted in additional challenges for all of us.
Also, the social contact, I missed that terribly. I think that we are a very social community. We hang out, we meet each other everywhere. We are warm, friendly people. We are huggers, that is how we greet each other. While our ‘new normal’ continues to evolve, I hope our ‘old normal’ do come back because I miss it. But I’m not sure if it can ever go back to ‘normal’. I expect that at least for now, we still must wear our masks, avoid large gatherings and wash hands frequently.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝? Well, at first, I had to say I wasn't going to take the vaccine because I listened to a lot of the talk about why you shouldn't. But then I started listening to some of the conversations about why I should, and from that, I determined that yes, I will take the vaccine. My reasons are both social and personal.
Number one, because it will prevent the spread to other people. And then, maybe we can get back to the normal that we once knew. I also thought that it may improve my circumstances for if I do get COVID, I may not get as seriously ill. I've looked at my particular situation and evaluated that I am overweight, and I do have additional health complications. So, balancing that with the information that I was able to read, yes, I would definitely go and have the vaccine. It is however a personal decision that people need to make. But it is one that I would advise them to make with credible information and balance that with their particular risks.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞? Do your research, get your credible information and balance that information with your personal health circumstance to determine what is best for you. It is critical to use credible sources for information. There is lots of misinformation and a lot of that information is just circulating from one person to the next. And because they may have gotten the information from whom they think is a credible source, the actual information that you get may not be from a credible source. I think we have lost sight of some of our credible sources, like the World Health Organization (WHO), which I used for my research. But also, a great resource that we have is for example our GP’s, which you have relied on for medical advice, our entire life.