The partnership between Fundacion Telefon pa Hubetud Aruba and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) for the ‘Guana Chat’ child helpline in the Caribbean Netherlands is a reality. State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen from VWS and director James Sneek from the Aruba child helpline signed a collaboration agreement on the 25th of June to expand the services of the Aruba-based child helpline to Saba and Bonaire.
The child helpline for the Caribbean Netherlands will be called Guana Chat 918, and children from Sint Eustatius have been able to use it since the 16th of March. Saba will be connected to the 918 number on 27 June, and Bonaire will follow later this year. The special telephone line allows youngsters to anonymously phone volunteers from Telefon pa Hubentud Aruba free of charge every day between 2 pm and 6 pm.
For over 20 years, the Aruba child helpline has been offering telephone and internet-based support, advice and information to Aruba-based children and youngsters between the ages of 8 and 24 years. The expansion of their services to the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands represents an important development for youngsters. James Sneek: “The child helpline is for all children who need someone to talk to. ‘The child helpline allows you to talk about EVERYTHING’. Support can always be requested and/or you can always talk about your experiences.”
VWS is responsible for supplying communication-related resources such as the website www.GuanaChat918.com, calling cards for all school children, and promotion materials.
State Secretary van Ooijen: “It’s great news that children from the Caribbean Netherlands now have the Guana Chat 918 to go to with everything that is on their minds. I hope that it will now become the norm for children and youngsters to contact us when they have an urgent question or just want to talk because they feel like it. We all feel that need sometimes to be more comfortable in our own skin.”
Launch for children on Saba
Starting the 27th of June, the free telephone number 918 is available every day between 14:00 and 18:00. The website www.guanachat918.com gives information on the use of the helpline and the different topics children and young people want to talk about. On the 27th of June, the social support team of Saba Government and involved aid organizations will visit grade 2 till grade 6 pupils of the primary schools to inform them about this helpline and guide them through the website.
Furthermore, between 11:00 and 14:00, an information booth will be placed at the parking lot in front of Bizzy B in Windwardside, where information will be given to the residents. Also, online, the residents will get the information through videos and messages.
The Guana Chat helpline is a collaboration between the Ministries of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS) and Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK), the child helpline of Aruba, ‘Telefon pa Hubentud’ and the Public Entity of Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire.