SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – In an effort to help protect front line workers and vulnerable groups against the highly infectious coronavirus COVID-19 disease, the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation has donated a number of masks to a number of critical organizations for the added protection of their workers and clients.
In recent days, a large quantity of masks was donated to representatives of the St. Maarten Police Force, Pointe Blanche Prison, Miss Lalie Center Youth Detention Facility, Home Away from Home Taking Care of the Elderly Foundation, Hope Estate Recreational Center for the elderly, Hurricane Irma Integration Shelter as well as to individual volunteers and community leaders, who are constantly out assisting persons in the community.
Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung said the island is short of masks and the foundation wanted to assist. A request was made to Tzu Chi’s head office for assistance and the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation received a quantity of masks within two weeks of its request, which were in turn donated to local organizations.
As the quantity of masks received were limited, the foundation donated to organizations, whose workers were most in need.
Hope Estate Recreational Senior Foundation representative Marva van Heyningen said she is working hard to keep seniors off the road in the current crisis situation with COVID-19 spreading. She said the current situation is difficult for seniors and she is happy to have received the donation of masks that she can share with the seniors. “I am grateful to Tzu Chi and I thank them and hope that they continue to do this for the entire St. Maarten.”
Nurse Marisol Wilson, who works at the Pointe Blanche Prison said she is very thankful for the masks. She said while it is unlikely that inmates can transmit the virus to prison staff, the workers can infect guards if they themselves catch the virus. She said it is therefore important that prison guards who take care of the inmates, have the masks to protect everyone.
William Wilfred, who accepted the masks on behalf of the Miss Lalie Center said given that the island has run out of masks and COVID-19 is increasing on the island, the donation from the Tzu Chi Foundation is very much appreciated. He said the Miss Lalie Center cannot close its operations and the masks will help to protect the workers, who have to continue working in the midst of the health crisis.
After receiving the donation, Home Away from Home Taking Care of the Elderly Foundation representative Patricia Flanders thanked Tzu Chi for the masks to assist seniors. “Thank you and may God give you health and strength to continue to help the nation,” Flanders said.
Cheung said Tzu Chi is grateful for the opportunity to be able to assist and she thanked the various organizations for graciously accepting the donations. Some additional masks are expected to be received soon as these too will be distributed.