The St Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross Society (SVGRC), said it is continuing to work alongside several government ministries on varying projects to facilitate and further support the recovery phase for persons whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by the volcanic eruptions.
In a release, the organisation said it: continues to distribute food and non-food items in communities across the country which saw an increase from 1100 persons to 4000 affected persons receiving assistance. The private and business sector as well as faith based organisations have also received support from the SVGRC.
Close to 300 persons benefited from the Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA). Through this programme many were able to pay their rent and other amenities. There continues to be a lot of emphasis placed towards the support of persons who are returning to their communities.
Community residents have been uniting to embark on a clean-up response and the SVGRC team has supported these efforts through the distribution of wheel barrows, shovels, and garden tools. The SVG Red Cross also embarked on different programmes which focussed on children who were affected by the volcanic eruptions. The Child Friendly Spaces Programme was able to highlight the importance of psychosocial support and this resulted in more than 400 children benefitting through the distribution of children kits.
Two months ago, the government declared the all clear for persons to safely return to their homes. The SVGRC team played an integral role by assisting in the closing of most schools that were used as shelters. However, returning home has not been possible for some families whose homes were destroyed during the volcanic eruptions. The organisation has been in collaboration with the ministry of National mobilisation, Social development, family, gender affairs, youth, housing and informal human settlement to embark on a Rental Support programme to facilitate persons who are unable to return home. Fifty-three families (170) persons from 11 schools were able to benefit through this program.
The organisation is looking at ways where it can continue to help affected persons and according to the Operations Manager, Julia Simmons, assessments are still ongoing to support [people in] the fishing & farming industries, cottage industries and livestock farming. Hundreds of affected persons whose livelihoods were hampered during and after the volcanic eruptions are expected to benefit through these initiatives.
“We want to get people back on their feet” , said Simmons. She said now that most persons are no longer in a government shelter, the primary focus is to transition these persons from a dependency state and getting them back to a normal life or at the very best, as close as possible to where they once were. She said that while most of the challenges still exist, persons are anxious to return to their community homes.
With the recent spike in COVID-19 infection rates and the unfortunate deaths, the SVGRC team has doubled its efforts and paired the volcanic eruption response with that of COVID-19 and has lent support to the taxi drivers and public transport operators with items to help practice and further encourage health and safety during their daily operations interfacing with the public.