Friends of the front-line
Lam Un Mui, president of The Women’s General Association of Macau, answers questions on how her team has supported the people and the government since the outbreak.
It isn’t just the government, medical services and businesses who have been at the heart of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus. Associations and organisations across Macao have chipped in where they can to support people and the authorities over the past few weeks. One such organisation is The Women’s General Association of Macao. The group, formed in 1950, promotes unity and maintains close contact with women in Macao, as well as running social services, nurseries and centres that deal with all sorts of issues like the education and training of women and psychotherapy services. President Lam Un Mui says it’s been a busy time supporting residents and the government during the outbreak.
How well has the government coped in dealing with the coronavirus?
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 has been the first challenge the new government has encountered since it took office at the end of last year. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, the epidemic prevention work has been decisive, fast, efficient and far-sighted.
How has The Women’s General Association of Macau helped the government in its work?
The third round of the sale of facemasks to local residents and non-resident workers started on 12 February. Since then – and in addition to health centres and designated pharmacies – a total of 21 service spots where masks can be purchased have been created with the help of the Macao Federation of Trade Unions, the General Union of Neighbourhood Associations of Macau and The Women’s General Association of Macau. We work with other organisations to assist the government in selling masks at these spots, which can relieve pressure on the authority. These spots help as they are across the city and thus prevent residents from gathering in one place, increasing the risk of infection.
What else has the association been doing to help people?
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, The Women’s General Association of Macau has been actively involved in the prevention and control of the epidemic. In the early days of the epidemic, we launched a series of special arrangements for epidemic prevention and immediately set up an emergency response team to co-operate with the government. We have also held lectures about epidemic prevention and we have been presenting feedback from medical personnel at the front-line to the government, such as from pregnant women and parents, with the hope that the relevant departments will follow up this feedback. In addition, we took the lead in setting up a coronavirus psychological counselling hotline which provides psychological support services and women’s medical counselling.
We hope to give people peace of mind, use our love to give people strength and use our confidence to help fight the epidemic.
Who listens to callers on this hotline?
The hotline team is composed of doctors, psychotherapists, social workers and other relevant professionals. The team listens and answers citizens’ problems and provides appropriate counselling or assistance. If anyone needs to use the hotline they can call +853 2822 6099 or +853 2833 0883 for assistance from the association’s Psychotherapy Centre. Since the outbreak, we have also suspended public services at our centres and in our eight nurseries, with all activities and courses being postponed. At the same time, we are distributing children’s masks that have been donated by well-wishers to parents.
It sounds like the association has been working hard to support the government and people since the outbreak began…
While the front-line is fighting, we are supporting from behind. As of 14 February, nearly 11,000 people, including the elderly, the disadvantaged and parents, have been sent messages from us so they can help spread the epidemic prevention information.
Have you raised any money?
We have raised money to help people in Hubei province. Since 10 February we have sent more than MOP 750,000 (US$94,000) to Hubei. We hope to give people peace of mind, use our love to give people strength and use our confidence to help fight the epidemic!
Can Macao swiftly get ‘back to normal’?
No lives can be smooth as no flowers can bloom forever. Treasure the good times and unite when we encounter difficulties. The outbreak was a great blow to Macao but many successful measures have been made and the public has supported them well. If the epidemic was over in Macao now, then I think that all sectors of the society should now work harder to keep our spirits high so the city can return to normal as soon as possible. Right now, Macao needs to face the challenges brought about by the epidemic, including negative economic growth. Therefore, it is necessary for all citizens to work together in order to overcome any difficulties and to once again build a beautiful home here in Macao.
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