JIS News

The Jamaica Red Cross has continued to provide relief for residents of Tivoli Gardens, having expended some $7 million in food and medical supplies since it began humanitarian assistance in that community last week.
Speaking with JIS News this morning (June 2), Deputy Director General of the Jamaica Red Cross, Mrs. Lois Hue explained that standard food packages have initially been distributed to some 1,000 families, and that it is estimated that some 2,000 families would have been served by the time the organisation ends its operations in the area this week.
“We provide packages for a family of five for one week – the determination of what goes into the package is based on a minimum international standard for food supply for a family. Some people may be lucky because they may have only two people in their household, but we don’t change the package…everybody gets a package which was designed for a family of five,” Mrs. Hue explained.
These packages contain items from the basic food groups, (except perishables) including: rice, flour, corn-meal, corned beef, tinned mackerel, cooking oil, red peas, syrup, cocoa, and sugar. Mrs. Hue notes that today in particular will be “special” as residents will receive in their packages, whole chicken from Caribbean Broilers, which is one of the entities that have stepped in to assist the Red Cross with its efforts.
Medication is chief among the needs of the residents, and the Red Cross has been busy filling prescriptions for those who are unable to do so for various reasons. “There were many people who couldn’t get out to have their prescription filled, and some of them are diabetic and needed insulin, people with heart conditions, and also asthma, which is also emotionally triggered – there were a lot of asthma cases. Our partners, Food for the Poor provided doctors to go in with us and the doctors wrote prescriptions, so we ended up with a whole lot of prescriptions,” she noted.
Mrs. Hue said that although some of the prescriptions were dated, the Red Cross still took the decision to have them filled given the financial situation of many of the residents.
“We recognised that it’s an economic situation, there was a challenge, and an opportunity came to fill the prescriptions,” she remarked, acknowledging the support given by Food for the Poor, in the form of medication and food items. Consumer Pharmacy has also generously provided a line of credit for the medication, while Jamaica National has donated funds to pay for the food supplies.
Mrs. Hue noted other partners in the effort including Digicel, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. UNICEF has also indicated its willingness to help. “We also provided doctors to have a look at those persons who were in the detention centre who were injured or ill – again Food for the Poor partnered with us to provide the doctors, but our first aiders and EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) were on board with ambulances as well to assist the Ministry of Health and other persons doing the wellness checks,” she told JIS News.
The Red Cross has also distributed bottled water and blankets for detainees who were housed at the National Arena up to last week, as well as the security personnel there.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross has also extended critical psychosocial services to residents, in assisting them through the emotional challenges in the wake of the joint police/military operation in the community. “Our team went in to make an assessment of what the needs were…people were traumatized, it was really an emotional burden. I saw as well children who were really seriously affected,” she said. Having assessed the emotional needs, the Red Cross team is scheduled to visit the community this Sunday to provide intervention.
Mrs. Hue noted that the organsiation would be focusing on adults, so as not to duplicate the efforts of the Ministry of Education, which is carrying out counselling services for children. “Our psychologists are going to help the parents to cope with what they will have (to deal with) with the children,” she noted.
The Deputy Director General explained that this assistance was necessary as the Red Cross understands that because persons were unable to leave the community, income had been affected. She said that although provisions such as food and medical supplies would be terminated this week, the psychosocial support will be continued, as this is needed on a longer-term basis.
In fact she said this may become a long-term project, depending on the needs. “We may need to start a programme in livelihood support for them. So as we observe and determine if we have the financial support to do it, we will try to help, so we are sensing that we will have a project that is ongoing,” Mrs. Hue asserted.

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