COVID-19 – Ministry of Family Affairs reassures | 28 March 2020
Family Affairs ministry calls for compassion amid COVID-19 pandemic
“Today, amid the COVID-19, my plea in this critical period is to make a concerted reflection on our behaviour, how to become compassionate, especially towards our neighbours, show respect to others specially those closest to us. And also let us use this time to comfort ourselves within our families. Let us forget the grievances towards each other and let us move on towards positivity.”
This was expressed by the Minister for Family Affairs, Mitcy Larue, in a press conference this week. She was accompanied by her principal secretaries – Linda William-Melanie (Social Affairs department), Marie-Josée Bonne (Family Affairs department), Alvin Laurence (Poverty Alleviation department); the chief executive of the Agency for Social Protection, Marcus Simeon; and the spokesperson for the National Council for Children, Sharon Meriton Jean. They also gave an overview of measures taken by the Ministry of Family Affairs with regard to COVID-19.
Pandemic not sparing Seychelles
Minister Larue talked about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is affecting the world and Seychelles. “We already see how our country will be affected and now more than ever we need to be unified. Seychelles needs all its children right now. We are sending one message only: we need to protect ourselves, our family and our community. Let us stay calm and protect your child, your parents and people with disabilities. We take this opportunity to make a call to action to all individuals, to take this time at home and establish good relationships with one another especially parents and their children or other extended family members you reside with. Come up with family-friendly educational and recreational activities that will keep the entire family busy. Please make your home an abuse free sanctuary! We are all in this together and it is only when we work together that we will overcome all challenges. We have seen the President addressed us and we need to heed his advice. Even the Governor of the Central Bank addressed us and we know that we are heading for difficult times. Let us take heed and check our finances,” noted Minister Larue.
She noted that the pandemic can bring a positive change in the society and bring more stability in our homes. Within the ministry, they are making sure that all workers are equipped with the necessary gear. At this time the Ministry of Family Affairs is not closing its services.
Carers, do your best!
Moving to the work done by the carers, Minister Larue praised them for their wonderful job done. There are currently some 300 old people requiring the service of a carer. “Since COVID-19, some carers pointed out the fact that they also have children and need to take care of them and do not attend to their duties. I implore the carers, at this critical time, do not leave our old people. Let us all take our responsibilities and look after the elderly and remember we used to be compassionate, and we need to try and sort out how we can give the best service to our old people. I also urge the parents who are at home with their children, you also have your own parents so please try to help out.”
As of Sunday March 22, the ministry has applied strict restrictions for visitors to all homes for the elderly on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. “We are also closely monitoring movements in and out of the homes. Public health officers have already conducted a talk on COVID-19 with all our home administrators and they are well versed to address this issue in our homes. For elderly persons in the community, the Helpline 2603030 is still operational, aside to reporting abuse, we are now taking calls to assist people especially elderly persons with psycho-social support whether they need advice or feeling uneasy,” explained PS Bonne.
R30 million supplementary budget allocated to Agency for Social Protection
As mentioned by President Danny Faure, a supplementary budget of R30 million will be allocated to the Agency for Social Protection. “If the budget of R30 million is approved by the National Assembly, we will definitely set up the criteria as to who will benefit from this fund and the money will be disbursed quickly. And we can only give the details after it is approved,” explained the minister.
Help for children who used to receive assistance at school
Since two weeks now, the schools are closed and many are wondering what is happening to the many children who were making use of the school meal facility. Minister Larue noted that they are currently working on this issue and they will make an announcement on how to assist these children. “When the children are on holidays they do not access the dedicated fund, but now when the schools are closed we are working out how best to make the fund available to the families. We will not leave the children hungry and no one will be left behind,” reassured the minister.
Children in orphanages
PS William-Melanie talked about the children that are currently in religious managed orphanages and she stated that all measures have been taken for the children to stay safe. “They have the same guidelines as the children at home and they have also space outside for them to play and do other activities. Children are being taught how to respect the guidelines linked to COVID-19. Those in charge of the orphanages are receiving more frequent visits in order to reassure them. We are also assisting them with whatever queries they have.”
Mr Simeon noted that currently Seychelles has more than 11,000 pensioners benefitting from social security. “Out of whom 90% receive their money through bank transfers and some 1563 collect their cash through various pay points. Our biggest challenge remains that even if the money is transferred to the bank, still we see the old people queueing at the banks to get their money out. We are working with the banks to find the best way to assist these people. Some 600 plus people are from Praslin and La Digue. We also have people coming to collect their alimony and we have to work harder to make them understand the convenience of having bank cards so that they can have access to their funds not only for now but also for future.”
Talking about the fresh graduates looking for jobs currently, Mr Simeon added that they are working together with the ministry of Employment to see the way forward.
Stay united and communicate the right thing
Minister Larue concluded the press meet by encouraging the community not to gather and make loud noises but instead pray together in the family. “Try to maintain the level of hygiene required and to continue wash hands. The way we behave will determine how successful we are in the fight against COVID-19. The Ministry of Health is doing a good job at tackling the present situation, that is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as we remain at 7 positive cases. The Ministry of Family Affairs’ objective is take on a pro-active approach to tackle the aftermath of this pandemic especially the social impact this will bring on our small population. My last message is that we need to communicate. We have different committees in place and we are working very closely with the Ministry of Health, Education and Employment so that we can move forward with the different programmes that we have in place.”
IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS
- Helpline (present main numbers 2603030 as previously announced designated to all elderly persons and 2722293 – transfer to appropriate channel)
- The Children’s Hotline 4322626 is also active for immediate assistance
- National Council for Disabled contact number is 4241400, we have staff readily available to assist families and individuals living with disability.
- National Council for Children: 4283900