The Indian Cultural Society in Jamaica yesterday donated 175 food packages to communities in St Mary where the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives and livelihood of the people there.
Satish Iyer, president of the organisation, said the donation came through a collaborative effort with Jamaica’s Indian business community.
“This is an initiative not just by the Indian Cultural Society but also by the Indian community. We got donations from a lot of our members and Indian businessmen. It is part of our social responsibility every year to do some sort of social service and we wanted to give back to the country we love and stay in and this year COVID-19 is affecting so many families and I think it is very important that we look after the families that are in need.
“We know that many were caught by surprise and it was not enough time for them to react so we decided to deliver some groceries to them,” said Iyer, adding that each package is expected to serve a family of four for at least a week and a half.
“The contents are packets of rice, soup, red kidney beans, cream crackers, salt, cooking oil, bread, and snacks for the children, as well as corn beef. We chose these items because of the longevity,” he said.
Previous initiatives have by the Indian Cultural Society included a donation of hand sanitisers and reusable face masks to the Child Protection and Family Services Agency.
“It is very difficult for us to go into a community and do things like this, so what we do is identify agencies that have responsibilities and work with them,” said Iyer.
The initiative is also being done in partnership with Icons of Annotto Bay, a local charity organisation that has been spearheading the delivery of care packages in St Mary to assist persons during the pandemic.
Dr Nagendra Babu Chandou, a director with Icons of Annotto Bay and CEO of the Ashish Community Health Organisation, said the initiative will target the most vulnerable in the communities of Highgate, Annotto Bay, Coleraine, Belfield, Rosend, Epsom, and Robin’s Bay
“We will be distributing the packages starting tomorrow (Sunday) to people who are really in need. We are looking at about 150 to 200 families to reach at this time.
“We are really happy to do this and I want to say thanks to the Indian Cultural Society,” said Chandou.
Dr Babu, as he is known in St Mary and beyond, is a private practitioner with offices in Annotto Bay, Highgate, and Islington, who along with his wife, also a medical doctor, has been on the front lines safeguarding the health of their patients.
“So far things are under control as we haven’t seen any new cases for the last three days. We are happy for that. The medical persons are doing their best, and my wife who works in the hospital, we try to be safe ourselves and do our best to uplift the community.
“Old people especially at this time need the help. I haven’t been seeing a lot of old people, but we utilise the contacts of our patients to call and ask what issues they are having, if their health is OK and so on.
“We also have some volunteers from each community and they get feedback from the residents and give us the information we need to help. This is a time for us to stand together and help each other,” said Dr Babu.
Dwight Daley, an essential worker with the North East Regional Health Authority and a volunteer with Dr Chandou’s community health organisation, said persons are still struggling to adjust to quarantine restrictions.
“It’s been a challenge getting people to adapt to the new system. Staying home is a problem for the people. Whether they have food or not, they just don’t like to stay home. Persons still go from house to house, which is what causes problems, because when we are out in the field we see so many people who visited with contact persons.
“The ministry goes out and delivers food but there are still some families who are not satisfied. Some are saying that they are not able to work, while some make things look worse than it is,” Daley said.
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