Cook Islands Red Cross has packed and distributed more than 300 hygiene parcels to vulnerable residents on Rarotonga. They comprise soap, toilet paper, hand towels, disinfectant, washing powder, dish-washing liquid and mosquito coils.
There are 1500 packs to deliver, sponsored by the New Zealand High Commission in association with Internal Affairs.
Today, hygiene packs will be transported to Tapi’s boat to be shipped to Manihiki and Rakahanga, leaving about 800 to deliver.
The agency has participated in the taskforce Covid-19 preparation meetings from the start.
Their role is to support the national effort and the puna structure, said Secretary-General Fine Tu’itupou-Arnold.
“It was a very good preparedness plan for if, or when, Covid-19 gets here, and the effective exercise was a helpful method of getting to know the people in the community,” she said.
Volunteers and staff had opportunities to meet individuals in the villages, know who the vulnerable are, where they live, what necessities they have and their living conditions.
“When we engage with the community, it really gives the community a sense of ownership, of its problem and solution,” said Tu’itupou-Arnold.
“This has makes it easier for us to do an assessment for a response phase; it’s a very good system for if we have to mobilise.”
The list of recipients is provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and includes old age pensioners, the destitute, and disabled.
The reaction from the community has been positive, people were grateful that they were remembered.
“People were very grateful for the packs, and some Mamas wanted to hug us, but because of social distancing we couldn’t.”
Tu’itupou-Arnold commended the activation of the puna system which she said was good and useful.
Volunteers were allocated to each puna, and Red Cross conducted first aid training, assisted with Operation Namu and provided white boards and stationary for the centers.
The challenge now, she said, was to keep the momentum going. “If we can keep it going even during good times, it’ll be the best preparation ever had.”