As is customary every year, the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles yesterday afternoon organised a short ceremony to commemorate its seventh anniversary, during which it took the opportunity to highlight its numerous achievements, the challenges it is still facing and also recognise a first batch of seven institutions and companies for their loyal support.

Representatives of the seven institutions and companies received a small token of appreciation and they are Kenya Airways, Pillay R Group, Vijay Construction, Eden Bleu Hotel, the government for budget support, the Chinese embassy and the Indian high commission. The two diplomatic missions have pledged to support the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (Ceps) in the construction of the Ceps House, at Ile du Port.

Alvin Laurence, chief executive of Ceps, noted that other loyal partners and supporters will be recognised in the near future.

The short commemoration ceremony at the National Theatre yesterday afternoon which was attended by ambassadors, Ceps’ former and present chairpersons, chief executives, board members and some members, kicked off with a poetic reflection by poet Jacob Terence Madeleine who stressed on the importance of people with the same vision, desire to engage others,  interests to achieve the same objectives to join forces in unity to work together under one united citizens engagement platform for the good, betterment of life and development of people in the communities. 

This was followed by a short video presentation which retraced the existence of Ceps which should be recalled came into being with the dissolution of the Liaison Unit of Non-governmental Organisations in Seychelles (Lungos) on November 8, 2014.

Lungos had been in existence since July 1989. 

In the video presentation, Bernard Elizabeth, the first chairperson of Lungos who served two three-year mandates, talked about the humble beginnings of the unit and its journey to get the recognition, importance and support it deserves.

It was in June 2008 that the then Minister for Health and Social Development Marie-Pierre Lloyd and Mr Elizabeth signed a memorandum of understanding, the culmination of seven years of work between Lungos and the focal ministry for non-governmental organisation (NGOs).

Mr Elizabeth said the signing of the agreement formally established a partnership in the efforts towards social and economic development of the country.

Over the years Ceps has managed to bring together different NGOs to register on the platform.

With the support of its board it has conducted several training on different topics for members and different groups in society. It has also created a regional platform to better liaise with regional countries. It has also started mobilising resources to build the Ceps House, a facility where all registered NGOs will have their offices and will be able to meet.

During yesterday’s ceremony, John Ondiek, the founder of the Up Brigade, the association which was registered the same month that Ceps came into existence, made a short testimony noting that it has been an empowering, engaging and interactive experience and a long journey during which the association has learned a lot under the then chief executive Michel Pierre.

“We did not know much about writing projects, where to get funding, how to coordinate but he worked with us and today we are very proud that thanks to the initiative of Ceps we are able to write our projects and I believe that there is still a lot for us to learn through our engagement with Ceps,” said Mr Ondiek.

When he addressed everyone present, Mr Laurence stressed on the need to show heartfelt gratitude to all those who are selflessly dedicating their lives to serve others.

‘’It is good to remind them that there is no amount of money or vocabulary that can translate our appreciation because during the seven years and even before Ceps came into being there were people  who devoted their time and their lives for others and for Seychelles and there have been many achievements,” Mr Laurence stated.

He noted that this moment of celebration is also a time to recognise our weaknesses and as humans we are not perfect and during the journey there are those who have been hurt and on behalf of his predecessors he has formally apologised to all those who have been hurt.

He further added that “the civil society is a platform for people to unite and appreciate each other and not become enemies, and today more than ever as we still struggle to adapt to the new normal because of Covid-19, we have to celebrate our anniversary without being able to bring all our members together”.

But he stressed that the pandemic cannot stop us from doing good, adding that it is an opportunity too for Ceps to prioritise its numerous projects noting that empowerment of its members and people in the community remains top priority.

Mr Laurence noted that the Ceps House project will also have to be reviewed and the focus will be on getting it off the ground.

It was on Saturday November 9, 2019 that the Ceps House project was launched at Ile du Port followed by a small celebration at Ceps’ current headquarters at Orion Mall in the presence of the Indian high commissioner General Dalbir Singh Suhag and other members of Ceps. This marked Ceps’ 30 years of existence as the civil society platform – 25 years as Lungos (Liaison Unit for Non-governmental Organisations) and five years as Ceps. This land was allocated to the civil society platform by the government in 2007.

Meanwhile, Françoise Larue, the newly elected chairperson of Ceps, also addressed the audience and highlighted some of the work of the platform, its challenges and projects. She also thanked all members and partners of Ceps.

Mrs Larue noted that businesses and individuals who wish to make a contribution towards the construction of the Ceps House can deposit their personal donations in the account opened by the platform with the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB). The account number is 772526.

The accompanying photos show highlights of the ceremony to mark Ceps’ 7th anniversary.

Courtesy: Marie-Anne Lepathy ( Nation.sc )