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BVI unites to collect relief supplies for SVG

BVI unites to collect relief supplies for SVG
Representatives of NGOs in the BVI that came together to organise the relief supplies for St Vincent and the Grenadines. From left: Jasen Penn, Director, Department of Disaster Management; Assistant Governor Ryan Geluk, Rotary Clubs of the BVI; representative of the SVG Association of the BVI;Cameron Williams, President, SVG Association; Alex Jefferies,Logistics Expert, Department of Disaster Management; Hon Carvin Malone, Minister of Health & Social Development and Past President of the Lions Club of Tortola.

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In a united effort to collect and send relief supplies to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as it endures the Soufriere volcano eruption, the BVI community opened its heart and generously gave relief supplies to the people of St. Vincent with an estimated value of over US$25,000. The shipment is scheduled to depart BVI [today] Friday, April 23rd to arrive in SVG by Monday, April 26.

The community-wide collection initiative was coordinated by the Lions Club of Tortola on Tortola, and the Valley Sound Lions Club on Virgin Gorda, in collaboration with partners, including the BVI Rotary Family, BVI Red Cross, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association (SVG Association), the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Tree of Hands, and the Government of the Virgin Island.

Collection bins were spread throughout the community with 15 locations on Tortola and five on Virgin Gorda to give the public maximum opportunity to donate over the past weekend. The community response was excellent as bins had to be emptied many times a day and taken to the consolidation warehouse in Port Purcell, made available by JOMA Properties.
“This was a well-organised and coordinated effort that saw great teamwork and cooperation amongst all of the partners and huge generosity on the part of the BVI people as we all worked to help the people of SGA” said Kedrick Malone, President of the Lions Club of Tortola.

He commended the project collection coordinator, Lion Daphodil Sampson, for her “organisation, enthusiasm and leadership during the collection drive” as well as the leaders from the other organisations who formed the coordinating team, namely Ryan Geluk, Assistant District Governor (ADG) of the BVI Rotary Family; Stacy Lloyd, Director of BVI Red Cross; Cameron Williams, President of SVG Association; Najan Christopher, Director of International Affairs Secretariat, Office of the Premier Office; Jasen Penn, Director of Department of Disaster Management (DDM); and Cecil Jeffrey, Logistic Expert at DDM.

Rotary ADG Ryan Geluk said that, “the entire Rotary Family was pleased to partner with Lions and the other partners to help with the relief efforts following our very successful telethon last week which raised in excess of US$100,000. The entire BVI community should be commended for their generosity toward St. Vincent. We truly are One Caribbean.”

In addition to the relief supplies collected, US$16,000 of cash was also given by businesses and individuals during relief collection. These funds will be used to purchase additional supplies when reviewing the needs list provided by the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as send to the service organisations in SVG to purchase items.

Director of the BVI Red Cross Stacy Lloyd, said that, “persons have customarily dropped relief supplies at the Red Cross in times of disasters so we just consolidated with the other supplies collected.”

The SVG Association also mounted collection campaigns and consolidated their supplies. According to its President Cameron Williams, “we had two successful events with one at Pancake Paradise with the BVI Entertainment Fraternity and one at New Testament Church of God with Pastor Ishmael Charles and collected a container load of supplies”.

The collected goods are being sorted, packed onto pallets and shrink wrapped for departure to St. Vincent on Friday.

According to Director of DDM Jasen Penn, “the shipment is being packaged in accordance with the instructions of the St. Vincent National Emergency Management Operations (NEMO) who will receive the shipment and make it available to the counterpart organisations in SVG.”

The Government, through Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Carvin Malone, was able to secure the services of EZ Shipping who provided a barge to transport the donations to St. Vincent at no cost except for all costs related to fuel consumption and port fees in the BVI and SVG. Arrangements are being made to ensure smooth dispatch of the items to SVG, including the waiving of fees in both SVG and BVI . According to Najan Christopher, Director of the International Affairs Secretariat in the Office of the Premier, “the Government has given its full support to this initiative and has facilitated the NGOs and provided whatever support was required, this is in addition to the Government’s own contributions communicated to the Government of SVG”.

The BVI organisations agreed that the goods would be distributed in a coordinated effort in St. Vincent by Lions Clubs of St. Vincent, the Rotary Clubs of St. Vincent and the St. Vincent Red Cross, in collaboration with NEMO. Supplies which were donated directly by the Police, ADRA and other organisations will be distributed directly to these organisations’ counterparts in St. Vincent. The Lions and Rotary clubs in St. Vincent have independent distribution facilities and networks that will focus on reaching persons in homes who have taken in friends and families, whilst NEMO focus on the 89 shelters working with St. Vincent Red Cross. Persons sheltering in homes are required to register with NEMO and that information is shared with the Lions and Rotary clubs.

Commenting on the initiative, Premier of the Virgin Islands, Hon Andrew Fahie said: “it warms my heart to see the people and Government of the BVI stand so strongly with the people and Government of St. Vincent. That is BVI Love.”