Embracing their blue shirts representing unity, charity, and a will to battle the current pandemic, a group of forward-thinking Jamaicans has pooled together a number of stakeholders, donors and cultivated a five-prong initiative to keep their community members sustained and their parish coronavirus (COVID-19) free.
The initiative, the brain-child of Member of Parliament, Ian Hayles, representative of the Hanover West, was officially launched Tuesday, April 21, at a press conference at The Lucille Miller Hall, Lucea, Hanover.
Hanover is the only parish to date that has recorded zero cases of the COVID-19. Jamaica has thus far recorded 233 cases, with St. Catherine recording the most number of cases.
Dubbed ‘Hanover Strong’, the initiative is geared towards the provision of assistance to the Hanover people through five vital steps and was executed with the assistance of various partners: the Church, Hanover Charities, youth originations, school principals and other civil society stakeholders—all being represented by a committee of nine persons on the Hanover Strong board.
Speaking at the press launch, Hayles identified the five-prong steps, which included mass sanitation of the streets and private and public passenger vehicles, a food programme that offers both cooked food and food items (CARE package), mask distribution and medication supplies being purchased and distributed to the parish population.
Within commencement of the first phase, the Hanover Strong taskforce aims to distribute 2,500 CARE packages across the parish. Thus far, 130 packages have already been distributed and at the press launch, 50 more were distributed by volunteers.
Starting Sunday, April 26, 2020, the taskforce will be implementing the mass sanitation programming—utilizing six blow mist machines to execute the tasks. Hayles revealed that the organization has received enough chemicals to last for two months. They are working to ensure that all public transportation vehicles are sanitized.
Stemming from the mandate given by Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, for all Jamaicans to wear masks in public, the taskforce was able to acquire 6,000 reusable masks that will be distributed to the public via various avenues such as the church, schools and mobile volunteers.
“You see, the coronavirus does not only affect poor people, it affects the rich and the poor—it affects everybody, but, I think we can create a level playing field because some Jamaicans cannot afford a mask, and we know that. One of the things we will be doing here in Hanover is ensuring that 6,000 of our citizens will be able to access the mask, starting today.” Hayles said.
1400 PATH students in the parish should also be benefiting for the Hanover Strong initiative whereby the group will be distributing CARE packages to each student.
The initiative has thus far raised approximately eight million dollars ($8 million). However, the group aims to raise over $10 million for the first phase. The first phase of the initiative is scheduled to be completed within three weeks (21 days.) Some key stakeholders who have also subscribed to the initiative are: Reverent Glenroy Clarke of the Lucea United Church and Councillor of Green Island, Marvell Sewell.
In a question and answer session, Hayles provided the following answer when asked what are the targets for each step in Phase one of Hanover Strong.
When asked how CARE packages will be distributed, he provided the following answer.