By Jamie Etheridge
Kuwait’s banks have announced that all clients – citizens and expats – would have their installment and credit card payments deferred for six months with no interest, fines or penalties. The announcement sent shockwaves through the expatriate community, many of whom have recently lost their jobs, had their salaries cut or otherwise lost the income that provides for themselves and their families.
Unfortunately, almost immediately, criminals saw the announcement as a potential opportunity to exploit and started calling and sending messages randomly to people asking for banking details, including their PIN codes and other information. Thankfully, the Kuwait Banking Association sent an urgent warning to all clients reminding them that banks will never call clients and ask for such information.
The generosity and communal spirit of Kuwait – especially in times of crisis and hardship – is remarkable. Already people and organizations across the country have volunteered or are engaged with charities to help those in financial difficulties. I’ve personally seen neighbors offer other neighbors without cars rides to the co-op or pharmacy to help them get groceries and needed medicines. At the same time, we’ve seen profiteers hiking prices of basic commodities like onions in order to take advantage of temporary shortages and exploit the circumstances.
I like to think that on balance, the good will win out. That profiteers and criminals may exist and try to exploit the situation, but that enough good people will come together to help those in need, and that it is the working together, the selfless contribution of the many over the selfish exploits of the few that will define this pandemic and our future survival.
Mr Rogers, the famous American children’s TV show host, said that during bad times, always look for the helpers. I used to think he meant only the doctors and firemen, the police officers and paramedics, the frontline heroes fighting this pandemic daily. We should look to the helpers – they are role models and worthy of our thanks.
We can also look to ourselves and each other because we are also all capable of helping someone, of doing something positive and uplifting. We can overcome the ‘evildoers’ by valuing and emulating the good we see in our community, by doing good deeds ourselves.