Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown, we carried on providing support to over 150 former incarcerated persons, 70 families and 85 children. As soon as the lockdown was announced, our team contacted our clients to ensure they understood its implications and assess their immediate needs.
Food being clients’ number one concern, we approached Foodwise and the National Social Inclusion Foundation (NSIF) to provide support to those in need. Food was distributed throughout the island and volunteers assisted us in distributing the supplies to the needy. Networking was established with other NGOs such as PILS and AILES, to ensure no one was left out of this mobilisation. Over 100 food packs were delivered throughout the country.
Quasi-permanent contact was maintained through the network of intervening associations, in order to respond to emergencies as soon as possible. We contacted our network to see what could be done as soon as possible.
The Prime Minister's office gave us a list of 50 people newly released from prison during the Covid-19 pandemic. They were contacted and supported according to their needs, including psychological support, food and basic commodities, among others.
We also worked with Mauritian prison services to carry on providing psychological support to incarcerated persons via Skype. Given the exceptional nature of the situation, the prison services allowed us to provide this service to women and the youth. This counselling was monitored by the prison service and undertaken once a week. Ten women and five youngsters were contacted during these support sessions.
Over 300 telephone counselling sessions were provided to the people we support on the outside (including children), to ensure their psychological wellbeing.
Information brochures on Covid-19 were also designed after the lockdown, to be shared with our clients and across our network.
The Mauritius Prison Services registered their first Covid-19 cases in early August 2021. We collaborated to help positive inmates maintain family links with their relatives.
The scope of the project covered 213 detainees who were positive to Covid-19 and transferred to Petit Verger Prison (Covid-19 quarantine zone for detainees) for treatment. A database listing the names and contact details of detainees’ family/relatives was obtained from the Mauritius Prison Services.
At Petit Verger Prison, weekly PCR tests were carried out and positive inmates had to undergo a 14-day quarantine. After receiving treatment, those who tested negative were transferred to their respective detention centre.
Our objective was to act as a liaison between detainees and their family/relatives, providing the latter with an update as to the detainees’ state of health, thereby reassuring them regarding incarcerated persons’ situation within the prison.
Within one week (6-13 August 2021), Kinouété’s 10 staff members conducted a total of 141 calls, reaching 66% of the contacts present on the database.
The family/relatives expressed happiness, comfort, relief and gratitude upon receiving news of their incarcerated family members, especially at a time where Covid-19 cases were increasing locally and started being detected within prisons. The reassurance provided by the calls shows the aim of the project was reached. Around 15 family/relatives expressed their interest in working with Kinouété in the future, especially following release.
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As part of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kinouété donated a selection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to prisoners and prison staff, including 500 surgical masks, 50 N95 masks, 250 soaps and 10L of hydroalcoholic gel.
Receiving a sample of the donation, handed over by the Program Manager, Yannick Rajibe, and the Program Executive of Kinouété, Saoud Muthy, the Acting Commissioner of Prisons, Mr. Jaganaden Rungadoo, warmly thanked the association and appreciated the donation which constitutes an important contribution to the efforts made by the prison in the management of the response against Covid-19.
This initiative was made possible through an inter-association project funded by the 5% initiative (I5PC).