Reflections From an Essential Worker

Reflections From an Essential Worker

Trying to fit in with Lee’s busy schedule during the COVID-19 crisis isn’t easy. He’s working six days during Alert Level 4. And on Alert Level 3, he’s continuing to be one of the essential supermarket workers who keeps the country in food supplies, and is also back into his online studies.

Lee has been involved with Ngā Rangatahi Toa for two years now. “It helps me to grow as a person and understand myself as well as others,” he says.“As a tuakana I get to express different aspects of my leadership and work on it more.

Lee will often message Ngā Rangatahi Toa’s staff asking for a kōrero on things he’s marinating on, and the COVID-19 lockdown has been no different. Some aspects of isolation haven’t been easy. “During this time some of my biggest reflections have been not being able to see my little brother – that’s really stung,” he says. “But I’ve also been able to work out what my future looks like and how the rest of the year is gonna look.”

He hasn’t just been using his small amounts of spare time for future planning. He’s also been using it as a chance to reflect on the journey that brought him here.

“Thinking on my school years, I have videos on my phone that I look at. Seeing all the positive experiences and memories I have in my memory bank, I’m pretty grateful for all these things. They help me go through and have a plan B. Making sure I’m prepared if I have to adapt to anything – then I’m ready.”

Frontline workers like Lee have been rightly praised for their vital service during the COVID-19 crisis. Lee says that for him, the pressure at work hasn’t been as intense as some other frontline staff have experienced.

“Processing COVID-19 around work is quite easy, as I have other people that help me keep my mind off it and work keeps me busy. I don’t want it [COVID-19] to change who I am and how I act or am with people. Online I have enjoyed keeping up to date with the virus to constantly see where we sit and how long this lockdown is going to take and get back into the swing of things.”

Lee knows the importance of staying grateful and being mindful of the things that fill his tank, “My family, my little brother and that when I’m at home I’m safe and can play PlayStation! My boss, who has been really cool and letting me work six days a week. My community is pretty tight and handling it pretty well. As a country I just think we need to notice the seriousness of COVID-19 and to understand we just all need to stay at home so this lockdown doesn’t have to extend.”

“If I could send a message to other rangatahi it would be, stay safe, stay happy, because pain is temporary and victory is forever. With that being said, this lockdown is temporary. We will come out a lot more grateful for what we have. Coz when it’s stripped away from us, it’s not fun.”