Civil society organisations collaborating to assist vulnerable groups

– pooling resources, aiming to reach persons in all 10 regions

In the wake of the coronavirus threat and the need for persons to stay home in order to practise social distancing, a number of civil society organisations have begun collaborating to see how they can pitch in to help Guyanese across the country.

A class for refugees learning English which was conducted by Voices GY

A major player in the collaboration is Voices GY, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) with a background of helping migrants and refugees in Guyana to assimilate into the new culture.
In an interview with one of its founders, Charlie Tokeley, he explained, “Voices has been leading the organisation of a civil society response forum, in the context of coronavirus. We have met to discuss collaboration and different ways we can assist our target population. Different vulnerable including abused children, LGBT, migrants and refugees.”
“So far, a few different initiatives have come out of it. Organisations have said they have people on the ground in Region Seven, but they don’t have resources. Then someone else would say, well, they have the resources, but they don’t have people on the ground and they can’t get them to you. Then someone else would say, ‘well’ we can get the resources out to you’.”
According to Tokeley, the organizations involved in the collaboration are Food For The Poor, the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO); the Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC); the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD); Catholic Charities Guyana- Migration Support; Humanity First Guyana; Deaf Association Guyana; and Blossom Incorporated.
In addition, representatives from the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO); the International Organisation for Migration (IOM); the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and ChildLink were also cited for participating in discussions.
“We work closely with the groups we try to service. And we have a closer connection to them than maybe the Government or international organisations do. And so, we’re more attentive to some of their concerns and the specific shortages in their communities. That’s kind of why we’re trying to collaborate.
“So, we are working to alleviate the situation, deliver food hampers and hygiene products, these kinds of things. These meetings are on Zoom, because of social distancing. But nonetheless, we’re doing things,” he added.
It was only recently that the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) began distributing hampers to persons across the country. Besides the supplies it provides, the Commission had also urged persons or businesses willing to make donations to do so at the CDC’s Headquarters at Thomas Road, Thomas Lands, Georgetown or make cash or cheque deposits into the CDC’s Republic Bank account 962356519938.
It had also noted that donations can be broken down into food supplies, personal hygiene care, sanitation supplies, and monetary support. Additionally, the CDC has been offering to deliver items that were sent by persons to their relatives in quarantine at no cost.
Persons who are desirous of sending items to their relatives in institutional quarantine or isolation were asked to do so through the CDC Headquarters. This is due to the high risk of exposure to families and friends of persons in institutional quarantine or isolation.
Among the calls made by the CDC was for persons and organisations who are doing distributions to communicate their locations to the Commission, so as to make sure that one person did not benefit twice from the efforts. Tokeley noted that they were indeed going to ensure that such information is collected.
“We’re going to create systems so we can collect information on who’s doing what in different regions, so that we can ensure no one is duplicating efforts,” he said, adding that the next meeting is scheduled for Thursday.