‘Timely relief’
Soldiers packing the supplies prior to the distribution exercise (Carl Croker photo)
Soldiers packing the supplies prior to the distribution exercise (Carl Croker photo)

-Residents of communities along Region Five welcome social relief

By Navendra Seoraj
THE Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to devastate parts of the world, with Guyana being no exception to the effects of the disease, but while there has been challenges locally, government has employed a number of containment and relief efforts, including the provision of social relief to vulnerable Guyanese.

The distribution of social relief, which is being coordinated by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), reached the doors/gates of residents of communities along the coast of Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), on Monday.

Hundreds of residents from between the communities of Dantzig and Fairfield received hampers containing essential food items.

Social distancing remained a priority as the CDC delivers hampers to residents of communities along the coast of Region Five (Carl Croker photo)

These communities were specifically chosen because residents have suffered a lot and even lost their livelihood because of flooding caused by a breach in the sea defence at Dantzig, last year. While the water has significantly receded, land, which was used for farming, was destroyed by salt water. In other cases, persons were afraid to farm and even practise livestock farming because they believed another disaster could happen at any time.

The existing challenges, compounded by the current challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have financially ‘crippled’ some persons. Considering those challenges, the social relief was openly welcomed and appreciated by those residents.

“I think is a very good initiative…since the pandemic start everything changed,” said one of the beneficiaries, Nalini Maschado in a “physically distanced” interview with the Guyana Chronicle, on Monday.

‘No one left out!’ Representatives of the CDC ensured that they distributed hampers to persons who live not just next to the public road, but to those who lived through alleyways and on dams (Carl Croker photo)

In talking about her struggles, Maschado said: “Things have changed a lot because we usually have a bus working and now it cannot work and we have installments to pay. I am now the breadwinner of the house because I take up a security job but is not a lot of money, so this hamper will really do well for us.”

Another beneficiary, Donna, a resident of Dantzig, said she is facing similar struggles because her main income earner, a farm, is not operating because she told her workers to stay home and stay safe from the COVID-19 disease.

“We stopped working because we don’t want anyone coming to work…I may know the right thing about how to avoid it but my workers might not; so to be on the safe side, I told them to stay home,” said the beneficiary.

In this regard, she said the social relief is welcomed and will go a far way in sustaining her family for a little while.

Another resident of Dantzig, Andre Smith, commended the CDC and other stakeholders for taking the effort to “vulnerable” communities first.

“It is a good idea helping out, not really poor people but vulnerable people who cannot come out…if you want to contain the virus, this is the right thing…I have a car and I work taxi but I am afraid to go out because I don’t know who will come in; so the best idea is to stay home,” said Smith, noting that the provision of social relief will go a far way in ensuring that persons stay home.

A representative of the CDC (first from right) delivers hampers to some residents and explains what the initiative is about (Carl Croker photo)

Director-General of the CDC, Lt Col Kester Craig, in a report on Monday, had said citizens across the country require assistance in these challenging times.

“Personnel from the CDC, the Rotary and Rotaract clubs, several other organisations and the military were mobilised to ensure that we provide relief supplies to those in need,” said Craig.

Lt Col Craig further noted that focus is being first placed on the most vulnerable population and then other communities so that everyone receives their supplies.

Craig noted that this being the first such exercise of this nature conducted in Guyana, it will be evaluated to ensure that, going forward, the distribution process will continue to flow smoothly.

The CDC heads the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) which was activated on March 31, 2020, and aims to ensure the highest level of collaboration among all stakeholders to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus, enhance preparation and strengthen the local response to this global pandemic.

Some of the agencies working along with the NEOC include the Ministry of Communities, Food For the Poor, the Private Sector Commission, the United Nations, the National Commission on Disabilities Guyana, the National Bureau of Statistics and the Guyana Defence Force.

The Director-General said the commission welcomes any assistance and donations from any company or individual who is willing to join the cause. Donations can be made in food supplies, personal care and sanitation supplies and financing.

Supplies can be delivered to the CDC’s headquarters, Thomas Road, Thomas Lands; cash or cheque deposits can be made to the commission’s Republic Bank account number 962356519938.

Food and hygiene supplies can be dropped off at the Thomas Lands location daily between 09:00 hrs and 15:00hrs.


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