It’s quiet here on the island. No cruise ships, few (if any) vacation visitors and many part-time residents have returned to their home country. Closure of the port, beaches, bars, many non-essential businesses, schools, churches, restaurants (except for take-out) and a dramatic reduction of flights, ferry/cargo services are resulting in soaring unemployment in this tourism based economy. Night curfews are being enforced. Families are expected to stay home unless they are working or need to go out for food, supplies or medical treatment.
We see a “good news” story amid the grim reality of COVID-19 even though the initial phases are just now beginning to impact Cozumel. The spirit of local people is truly amazing. Of course they are concerned about the health and well-being of their family. However, they are resilient, value time spent with family during this stay at home period, focus on what they do have vs. what they don’t have and are willing to help/share what little they have with others.
The need to support families now is greater than anything we’ve seen in recent years, including past severe hurricanes because people knew once the hurricane was “over” the rebuilding could begin. The uncertainty of the COVID-19 timeframe and the impact is unsettling. Friends of Cozumel has identified 5 ways we can help families by providing:
- “Despensas” of food, cleaning and disinfectant supplies. The government has announced their intent to help all families with basic food needs in April. The supplies FOC is providing will help bridge the gap between now and implementation of the government program.
- Baby formula, wipes and ecological/reusable cloth diapers (a new initiative).
- Medication and transportation financial assistance to required medical appointments on the mainland. Limited to families we currently support and does not include $ to pay for treatments/operations.
- Temporary project work with modest wages for selected local individuals to support their families (i.e. sewing, basic carpentry, sorting/organizing donations normally done by our volunteers).
- Computers, internet access and printing services (free) to students for online learning in collaboration with Vida Abundante church.
Our weekly goal is to help 5-10 families impacting an average of 30+ family members. Priorities include helping families with the greatest need: single parents out of work; families with special needs, disabilities and/or ongoing health issues; seniors whose families cannot support them during this time, etc. We are working quietly “behind the scenes” one-on-one to deliver food and supplies in a way that demonstrates social distancing and educates families. We do not have the capacity to take on a major new initiative to help masses of people in need but we’re confident the steps identified above will make a positive difference in enabling some families to survive and thrive with basic necessities during this time of uncertainty.
Thank you to donors and volunteers who have contacted us and offered to help. If you would like to contribute to this effort click here http://friendsofcozumel.com/your-help/how-to-make-a-donation/