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MSC COVID-19 Update

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Darcy Tulloch-Williams

Darcy Tulloch-Williams, Executive Director of Mustard Seed Communities in Jamaica gave an update this week on COVID-19 in Jamaica and Mustard Seed's response and preparations.


For those who don't know, my name is Darcy Tulloch-Williams, I'm part of the leadership of Mustard Seed Communities Jamaica, and I work very, very closely with Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon and Father Garvin on the ground as it relates to the care of our children. Now, the whole world is caught in this, you know, disaster preparedness as it relates to COVID-19. And we thought we owed it to you, our benefactors, you, our friends, to share with you what is happening in Jamaica.

Needless to say that our children are missing you tremendously. And I want to give a big shout out to three groups that should have been on the ground as we speak, and our children really are missing you. But to make up for that, we thought we'd have this conversation. So as we speak, it is nice and sunny outside. It's a wonderful day. But of course, Jamaica too is being impacted by this pandemic COVID-19. And all the government has been responding in a very responsible way, in terms of curtailing what is happening, and I wanted to share some of that with you.

Right, they have in place a curfew, which is across entire Jamaica. And what that means is that between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 p.m., we have lockdown. Nobody is allowed to be on the road except for the essential services. And of course our caregivers fall under that. We have restrictions on individuals who are over age 75 they have to remain at home because we Know that they are a high risk population with our borders are closed, needless to say, and that has impacted tremendously, of course, our volunteer program and I'll go into that a little bit further along. We also are looking at non-pessential workers staying home and doing work from home because the whole idea of you know, people commuting and moving around with a virus, we're trying to limit that. And so at this point in time, what the government is trying to do is to flatten the curve, to make sure that we don't spike to date as we speak. I think yesterday based on the report given We are at 63 persons who are impacted by this disease, unfortunately, we lost about three persons. Most of I think about 50% of the those who have contracted the disease they brought that into the island. So what we are trying to do is to hold strain but of course It's extremely hard on all of us.

But we are grateful to God we really are that so far over community remains healthy. I want to let you know all of our children at this point in time are okay. Our staff members are okay. But we also as an organization has a responsibility to put in place certain things to ensure that we protect our children, and that we protect our staff and of course, the adjoining communities.

So what has been happening really is that for Fr. Garvin, myself, and Monsignor where necessary, we have been going around ensuring that the well being of our residents and children, the these are being met. And so you know, it's hard. It's hard for this stuff, because they are also fair. For. So what we have been doing in terms of position position or our thrust is to say to them, Listen, you have to take care of your family, which is important. You have to make sure whatever it is that you're doing, you're protecting yourself and your family, because remember that our community of children's and isolated community in the sense that they are not going out. So we including myself, have, we have got to be responsible to make sure that we don't bring the virus into the compound.

So we have started the ball rolling by putting in certain protocols, which we have disseminated across all of our 13 apostles, indicating to the administrators and the staff. What are the expectations, how you need to conduct yourself, the whole business of hygiene, we have gotten to the point where we haven't even been putting wash basins at the individual entrances have all of our possibilities. And of course, you know, the volunteer contact has been called 100% totally, because at this point I think we are done by 50 volunteer groups coming in. And that is a major knock. We have also been creating isolation, isolation and quarantine rooms.

We have a Jacob's Ladder Damascus, we have earmark that commune that that village into a quarantine area. Because in the event that something goes down in any of these are possible, we want to make sure particularly Jacob's Ladder that has 100 residents, if something happens, we have a place to take the children so that the drill is this. Once we have identified God forbid that a child is in distress, we have to isolate the child immediately. And then what we need to do after that is get in touch with the public health and they will guide us as it relates to how to move forward. So we are not just about This ad Damascus a Jacob's ladder. We have made sure for instance, that Jerusalem has a place set aside because you know, they have about 160 odd residents who are there, we have set aside a place there where the children can be quarantined, if needs be, and so all of our homes have no identifiers such as space, the challenges that with doing that you have to find a relevant property or whatever it is, that is needed to protect yourself. So we are challenged by things like we don't have enough protective gear we have to look at Okay, what about the staffing? Do we have enough staffing to accommodate the event of a breakout? What would we do?

So we're working through all those logistics and you having things like okay, you have to have extra food. As buffer put aside, you have to be looking at things like medication that you have to put aside in the event that you cannot access the same So think of trying to find extra buffer food for 400 and odd residents. In the event that is a total lockdown and you can't get stuff. What that requires is funding. So we are now trying to see what we can work out to get this all sorted out. So in the event that there is a problem, we'll be able to deal with it. Now, our children, thank God, they are healthy.

They keep asking for the volunteers. I know father speaks about Cedric, y'all know Cedric, all the all those of you who go to Jacob's ladder. You remember this, Mr. Cedric was that the mayor for Jacob's Ladder? He's asking where the volunteers when the volunteers come, volunteers come, but we know we can't do that at this point in time. So we continue to plan and to make sure that whatever it is, we're doing will meet the standards, the standards that are required for our children. We're trying also to earmark, we're possible accommodation for stuff because it was stuff like your die, anything can happen.

They can contract the disease and can't come on. So what is that going to do? That's going to put strain strain and stresses on the other remaining stuff. And so what we have done is identified for instance, places on specific postulates like Jacob's Ladder has the ability to accommodate some stuff. Jerusalem has the same lesson assurance wherever we have some kind of volunteer accommodation, we may be able to earmark a portion of gift a focus is same Sophie's Place to accommodate staff who may want to stay on, let's say a week on or a week off. And that will help them to because that will reduce any potential for them to contract the disease because a lot of our staffing, travel on the bosses or the taxes and you know how Jamaica is, you know, it's closely, you're confined when you're going to a vehicle, and you're trying to practice social distancing. So that is something that we are looking into. And a lot of our volunteers and our staff have said that they are prepared to stay on if this is required.

Now as it relates to the volunteer program, many of you know that and I hope you know, because, you know, we've had some good friends who have been calling for many years and you have a strong sense of who we are and how we are funded. And that continues to be a major challenge because even with a volunteer program, we are constantly behind the board because we always Trying to find innovative ways to make additional funds to take care of our residents. Because most of them, as you know, are comorbid in the sense that they have some kind of underlying disease. And can you imagine if cool would come on top of that, what it is that we'll be facing?

So we are trying to see know how best we can bridge the gap in terms of the deficit that would have been created by the absence of the volunteers. We are, as I said before, 50 something groups. And if I were to tell you what is in dollars and cents in terms of the contribution that's about over $800,000 US dollars, going up to June, as a big knock, and therefore that is putting us in a kind of tear spin to see how are we going to solve that problem? How are we gonna solve the problem? So what we have been trying to do is to Think of innovative ways, you know, make contact with a lot of our good friends who are out there because there's a lot of goodwill, because people understand the nature of the work that we are doing for or children who have nobody but us. We are it. If we are not going to do this, I don't know what will happen.

So we're trying to find innovative ways to bridge this deficit. And whatever suggestions you may have, we are ready to listen and to see how we could move forward. We're also trying to see if we can, you know, try and get something through the government. We don't know if that is possible, because they themselves are on a lot of pressure, right? No pressure to deal with the economic, their economic responsibility to the country. You know, we are part of that. What we don't know if we'll be seen as major or integral to anything. You know, so we're looking for ideas and ways and means of getting additional funding for what we need to do. We don't know when this thing is going to end, you know, we see where in in Europe, it continues to accelerate, we see where in the US it's continuing to accelerate. So we don't know there's no end time in terms of okay project for two months. And you'll defy No, we don't know.

So as a children, so we can sit around and wait, but how how, how do you get out of this dilemma, when it is that the entire world is being affected? So my dear friends, I'm asking you to pray for us to pray for us so that we will find our way. And the only way we can do it is collectively through collaboration. There's a good friend better than pocket money, and one hand can clap. And this is these are Jamaicans saying, I hope you're you're picking The meanings behind this, but it really, it really means that it's a community effort. And so we are relying on all of our partners to guide us in the process in terms of moving forward.

The things that we need right now additional things that we need and, you know, it's how to get it, it's we need diapers, that is always something that is a challenge to get. We need diapers, we need additional masks. We need personal we call them personal protective equipment, you know, those fancy suit that you're wearing the disposable ones, we need some of that to be able to, you know, make our stuff you're comfortable because you don't want them on the front line, not being properly protected. You know, we do have some in house but you're going to need more.

So these are some of the things that we're asking anybody has any ideas, you know, to share with us so that we can move forward and we are praying. I am praying I'm really praying and hoping that there will be a miracle that there will be a miracle Mustard Seed way, the mustard seed miracle that not one of our children, not one of our staff will be affected. But instead we'll be able to sing and talk about this testimony that we got blessed us and we were resilient throat, and we continue to pray for you all volunteers that none of your family also will be affected. Alright, so keep us in your prayers and somebody I'm trying to find out here.

Somebody had asked a great question and they said, um, it I think it was Elizabeth Wilson. On Instagram. She was asking, How can we? How can we pray for you? And we're going to tell you that Listen, this load on me is Milady. And great, as well as you can join us, for instance, on Facebook. Holy Thursday, we'll be having Mass and we're going to ask To join us, and it's a live streaming that we're not having mass, we're going to do a live stream, Adoration of the blessing sacrament. And that is going to be between seven and 9pm EDT. You can also join us in the in saying the Rosary. And we do this on I think we do this on when surely you can remember we do this on a Thursday, I believe, at 9pm EDT, you can join us in saying the Rosary. All right. And on Thursdays, of course, join us in mass. So not enough prayers. We need we need your help. We need your your your your your your generosity, because we can't do it without you. It takes a village to raise a child and we have to come together as a group to really make this happen. We are not in despair. We are not in despair, because we know we're going to see all way through this So keep keep in touch with us and we will ensure to keep you updated on a regular basis.

Alright, so we're going to be do i do and wish you all the best and thank you so much and anything you need to find out from us. Just call the mail. We will be quick to answer. Thank you so much, and have a blessed rest of the day.

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