Miss Seychelles reaches out to semi-orphans |10 June 2021
Kelly-Mary Annette, Seychelles’ reigning Miss Seychelles, was officially crowned on December 9, 2020, after having won over the hearts of the judges and Seychellois public with her charming smile, and humble nature.
Annette, who hails from Pointe Larue, strongly believes that losing her mother at the tender age of 14 has taught her to be resilient, and most importantly, led her to have special consideration for orphans and semi-orphans in Seychelles. As such, the pageant queen has assigned herself the responsibility and duty of standing up for semi-orphans and orphans, to hold their hands and guide them through what is possibly one of the worst experiences of their lives.
Seychelles NATION had a chat with the Creole beauty to learn more about Maylene’s Hope Foundation, her newly established not-for-profit foundation catering to semi-orphans and single-parent families, and her aspirations for the future.
Birth of Maylene’s Hope Foundation
“Maylene is the name of my mother, because I believe that it’s through her life’s humility that I am now able to give to the most vulnerable. In my healing process, I was asking God why he took away my mother, but over time I started to think maybe there is a reason, and that I can use my story and personal experience to really help those that are in need,” she says reflectively.
After her mum’s passing, a young Kelly-Mary quickly found herself stepping up to care for her two younger siblings, and her heartbroken father. As young, vulnerable and as broken as she was, the young student took it in her stride, ensuring that her brother and sister are well-cared for and represented at school meetings and such, as well as caring for her father, the family home and juggling academic life.
Selflessly, the young lady prioritised her family’s needs and persisted through studies, albeit with no form of assistance to help them adjust. Accordingly, having witnessed first-hand her father’s struggle to raise her siblings and her single-handedly, she, as a member of the Seychelles National Youth Assembly (SYNA) moved the assembly to approve a motion calling for the government to establish semi-orphan benefits, upon the death of a parent.
“When I was at university, some people would contact me, for instance in a circumstance whereby a child loses a parent and becomes a semi-orphan, which led me to realise that there is no formal help or support out there for semi-orphans. This was around six years after the death of my mum, and still, I had not gotten any emotional help or therapy or whatsoever, and the emotions of the heartbreak at losing my mum had been suppressed. That is when I thought that I needed to do something to cater to them; I do not want them to feel alone like I did.”
The foundation today
In 2020, as she went head to head against other hopefuls vying for the coveted Miss Seychelles crown, Kelly-Mary unveiled the foundation as her project, with the primary aim of providing emotional and psychological support to semi-orphans and to empower them.
Although registered, the foundation is yet to be officially launched, as the administrative processes are finalised. Prior to the launch, Kelly-Mary and her team plan on compiling statistics relating to the number of semi-orphans in Seychelles, so as to better cater to them through support services offered by the foundation.
Based on discussions with the Ministry of Youth and Social Affairs, there are counsellors willing to offer counselling to semi-orphans, although the foundation is also calling out to other professionals and organisations to support the cause, and to help in any which way they can with empowering the youths and equipping them with life-skills to navigate through life.
“Asides from emotional therapy and counselling, the other aim is to provide them with a wealth management class, life skills classes, decision-making sessions, resilience workshops, sports and fitness, to empower them. We also intend to organise fun trips and day outings where they can get to socialise with others, or even discover their passion for something; give them a starting point so they can pave their own way.”
“We also need manpower for that, for example for experts to come forward, volunteer their time, we would like them to come forward, and organise activities for the semi-orphans. We also need to consider Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette,” she added.
On a day-to-day basis, Kelly-Mary does not shy away from stepping in to provide for the needs of semi-orphans in whatever way she can. Lacking the financial resources to source a pair of glasses for an orphan in need, she sought sponsorship from generous donors, and over the months has gone further to host small birthday celebrations complete with cake and treats, for others, in addition to hosting talks and forums with children and youths through collaboration with different schools and institutions.
She hopes to soon find a small space which they can use as an office, and as a drop-off point for donations of any kind, including clothing, food items and other necessities which are welcome.
“I also have a few cases that come to my attention, whereby semi-orphans do not have clothes, and basic commodities, so, I would really like to establish a premise, a small office or a drop-off point whereby people can make donations.”
“We need to have more consideration for semi-orphans and orphans, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic where they are faced with financial struggles, and who may be feeling alone and isolated now that school is not in regularly. We therefore urge that anyone, whether individuals, or organisations, who can assist and contribute towards the foundation’s goals to get in contact with us to help offer their support to these children, as they really need it,” Miss Annette added.
In future, Kelly-Mary also hopes to unveil the foundation as her project for the international Miss World Pageant platform, hopefully in next year’s pageant, giving her adequate time to have the project on its feet, and to get programmes in place.
Members of the public can follow Maylene’s Hope Foundation on Instagram, or can contact Kelly-Mary on Facebook to offer their support or services, or if seeking help through the foundation.