New NGO ‘Beatitudes Seychelles’ officially launched |30 November 2022
Beatitudes Seychelles, a new a non-governmental organisation assisting people with special needs in South West Mahé, was official launched yesterday morning after being in existence for one and half years.
The chairperson of the organisation, Marie-May Leon, had the honour to officially launch the organisation in a short ceremony that was held at Double Tree Hilton Allamanda Resort and Spa, Anse Forban in the presence of First Lady, Linda Ramkalawan, the Minister for Youth, Sports and the Family Marie-Celine Zialor, the Minister for Education Dr Justin Valentin, the chief executive of the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (Ceps) Alvin Laurence, the general manager of Double Tree Hilton Allamanda Resort and Spa, representing the Hilton Group Doreen Valentin, representatives from Round Table Seychelles, Beatitudes Seychelles members, parents and other invited guests.
In her opening remarks Mrs Leon said the vision of Beatitudes Seychelles is to create a society whereby differences are embraced and everyone can live in dignity.
She noted that the members working for the organisation are determined agents of change, believers in what is good and right, promoters of social justice and inclusivity for the vulnerable groups and families of our society.
The organisation was officially registered with Ceps in June 2021 and since then some children with special needs have benefited through the various programmes that were offered, among which creative art and sewing projects aimed at helping them make a living. Beatitudes Seychelles has to date 700 followers on Facebook and the number is expected to grow now that it will become more visible.
“We aim to do much more because there are still many young persons living with disabilities out there but who can be economically active or contribute in some way towards the development of our country and more than anything, become more independent,” Mrs Leon said.
She noted that with the help from our professional centres, they hope to develop targeted training programmes to facilitate the integration of even more persons living with disabilities in formal employment while they also hope to provide counselling and mentoring as well as life coaching classes especially for parents encountering difficulties with their home life and their children.
She added that discussions have started with interested partners with the aim of introducing a one-stop shelter to expand on the services being offered for persons living with disabilities and their families.
She said although it is attending to persons with special needs in the western and southern region, Beatitudes Seychelles welcomes other persons from other regions wishing to join the programmes.
“We want to take our holiday programmes and after school care for children in the western region to a higher level,” said Mrs Leon, who thanked all those who have helped in supporting the causes of the organisation.
Beatitudes Seychelles is a family initiative and apart from Mrs Leon as chairperson, the vice-chairperson is Christopher Adelaide, treasurer Rania Matombe, and Moyra Leon, Doreen Leon, Gina Adelaide and Bryan Florentine as ordinary members.
Beatitudes is a series of blessings that are found in the fifth chapter of Matthew in the Christian Bible. These blessings were given by Jesus to his disciples during the Sermon on the Mount.
Ceps’ chief executive Alvin Laurence said with Beatitudes Seychelles operating in the south western region, it is helping in de-centralising services offered to persons with special needs.
He noted that with the family joining together for a good cause, it will inspire volunteers in other regions to come together to form organisations to help in the community and the country in general.
He noted that as there are a few NGOs associated with persons with special needs, Ceps will be working to regroup them so that together they can work on different activities to help this group of people.
He said Beatitudes Seychelles is an example of how people can come together on their own free will to make a difference in the lives of others without having to wait for the government and others to prompt them to do so.
Mrs Valentin said the Hilton Group is very pleased to be associated with Beatitudes Seychelles as it has a big heart for people in the community especially working with young people.
In her closing remarks, Minister Zailor said Beatitudes Seychelles is sending a clear message to people especially for families to come forward and to take the responsibility to do something good in their community.
She remarked that setting up the organisation is an example of positivity among family members which the department of the family is working to achieve among other family members in society.
She noted that the department is committed to supporting Beatitudes Seychelles and other groups in the country working for the most vulnerable.
During the ceremony, Round Table Seychelles (RTS) through its chairman Alex Freminot and its entertainment and fund raising officer Darrel Benoit presented a cheque for R10,000 to Beatitudes Seychelles in support of its programmes.
Mr Freminot vowed RTS’ continued support to Beatitudes Seychelles.
The organisation also unveiled its new logo.
After the launch ceremony, the dignitaries and guests viewed an exhibition of different pieces of work done by persons with special needs enrolled on Beatitudes Seychelles’ creative art and sewing projects.
The works from recycled materials include small tables and stools made from pet bottles and cartons, decorations made of leaves and flower pots made from used clothes and cement, small gift hampers, bags, ladies purses, glass coaters, jewelries, bathroom slippers, bed sheets, table cloths among others.
Some of the items on display were on sale.
Sylvanne Freminot, the mother of Rico Freminot who was among participants who made the flower pots among other items, said she was surprised to see the kind of items her son has created given his disabilities.
She said at first he showed no interest in joining the programme.
She noted that she will encourage him to continue to attend classes and to improve on his creation so that he can earn something.
She called on other parents with children with special needs not to hesitate to send their children to Beatitudes Seychelles so that they can learn something that will help them to earn a living in the future.
Facilitator Monia Florentine said they are teaching the young people how they can make a living by making strong objects using cheap materials and in doing that they are also helping to remove waste from the country’s environment.
She noted that the young people with special needs at times collaborate to work on certain items given their disabilities.
Beatitudes Seychelles was blessed by Father Yves Ngowegui and Father Eric Leon from the Baie Lazare and Takamaka parishes respectively.
Text & photos by Patrick Joubert