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Caritas Mauritius Targets Thousands of Families in COVID-19 Food Aid Program

The official logo of Caritas Mauritius. Credit: Courtesy Photo

At least 3,500 families reported to be severely affected by the effects of COVID-19 in Mauritius are expected to receive food aid from the development and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church in the Indian Ocean island nation. 

In their Tuesday, April 20 report, officials of Caritas Mauritius say the ongoing Food Aid Program has been supported by the National Covid Fund (NCF). 

“The duration of the Program is one year (from November 2020 to October 2021), with the target of more than 3,500 beneficiary families who have been severely affected since the start of the pandemic,” the President Caritas Mauritius, Brigitte Koenig, has been quoted as saying in the April 20 statement published by the country’s Diocese of Port Louis.

Since the program began, over 17,500 Mauritians have received food parcels, Ms. Koenig adds.

According to the Caritas official, the program is part of the Catholic Church’s efforts to help Mauritian families manage the effects of COVID-19, a pandemic that has affected 1,203 people, caused 15 deaths, and 934 others recovered in the Indian Ocean Island nation. 

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“As the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of national containment continue to affect people, Caritas continues to work hard and fight daily to help the poorest Mauritian families cope with this global threat,” Caritas Mauritius leadership says in the statement.

Explaining how the Catholic Church entity received the fund from the NCF, Ms. Koenig says, “On 11 May 2020, Caritas Mauritius responded to the call for projects from the National Covid Fund (NCF) by submitting a vast Food Aid Program, a project supported by the association's large network of volunteers and social workers deployed in 52 Caritas points/centres on the island, to reach the main pockets of poverty.”

In the statement, the President of Caritas Mauritius expresses gratitude to the NCF for approving and funding the Food Aid Program.

“The funds obtained are a great help to continue the difficult and often complicated work we started last year with the most disadvantaged people with much lesser means,” Ms. Koenig says. 

She adds that similar to other Caritas projects, the ongoing food distribution “is done within the framework of eligibility criteria and broader social support to help families get back on their feet.”

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The Caritas official further explains that the ongoing Food Aid Program comprises two components, “a direct food aid project, through the distribution of Food Packs/Vouchers during the confinement and school meals to children (and) an agricultural development project to help families meet their own needs (community vegetable gardens).”

“The program is on track,” Ms. Koenig says, adding that “as of 31 March 2021, 4,766 food packs distributed by Caritas have been funded by the National Covid Fund (NCF).”

As a way of improving transparency and good governance, the President of the board members of Caritas Mauritius says that the leadership of the Catholic Church entity submitted a report to the authorities and an audit by the NCF is underway. 

Ms. Koenig adds that because of NFC’s funding, which has catered for the food aid, “Caritas has decided not to appeal for food donations.” 

Caritas Mauritius is however open to receiving donations for the hygienic needs of infants and elderly members of the Mauritian society which are not provided for by the NCF funds, she clarifies in the April 20 statement.

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Meanwhile, a team of psychologists in Mauritius are offering free counselling services to the people of God in the Indian Ocean Island nation in view of addressing some of the negative effects of COVID-19.

"Free telephone calls allow anyone who wishes to be listened to in a framework of trust, respect and non-judgment to share in depth what he/she lives in lives in by being invited to put into words his/her current difficulties, feelings, thoughts etc.,” the head of the Office of Psychology in the Diocese of Port Louis, Emilie Rivet-Duval, has been quoted as saying in a report. 

In the report published by the Diocese of Port Louis, the doctor in Clinical Psychology explains that during the counselling sessions, “the professional refrains from giving advice/solutions and invites the other to connect more to himself, to find within himself the necessary resources to move forward, step by step and to pose what will contribute to his well-being.”  

The head of the Diocesan Office of Psychology in the Diocese of Port Louis continues, “Through this listening, and with the help of the professional, some practical and concrete ideas can also be identified to help the other to better manage his feelings of fear, anxiety, doubt, sadness and/or anger.”

The counselling services have been enabled by a collaboration of members of different associations of professionals working in the field of psychology in Mauritius.

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