As Hurricane Maria bears down on the Caribbean for what is reported to be another damaging hurricane, some members of the CARICOM Consular Corps on Sunday, Sept. 17, mobilized the community to aid citizens devastated by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean region, by collecting canned goods, clothing, baby diapers and toiletries, that will be shipped immediately through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, said Consul General of Guyana to New York Barbara Atherly.
The corps which included Consul Generals of St. Lucia, Jeremiah Hyacinth; St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Howie Prince; Dominica Consulate representative, Sheldon Peter Anthony, and Deputy CG of Belize, Michelle Longsworth, welcomed donors, during an afternoon of music and refreshments at the Friends of Crown Heights Hall on Hegeman Street in East New York.
Two more mobilization drives will be held in Brooklyn on Sunday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 1, at Friends of Crown Heights, 671 Prospect Place from 10 am to 5 pm.
Donations could be dropped off in Queens during the week at: Darmin Bachu Law Offices, 8745 Van Wyck Expressway, Jamaica, New York, and Vishnu Mahadeo, 13617 Hillside Ave., Jamaica, New York.
Atherly, who will begin her three-month stint on Oct. 1, as chairperson of the Consular Corp, noted that after an emergency meeting to respond to the devastation left by hurricane Irma in the Caribbean, a decision was made, to collect needed items, and plan a church service, and a variety concert for a later date, to continue supportive initiatives to help those displaced.
CG Howie Prince, said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines community felt it was necessary to come together with the Corps, after the group had began an independent drive, to start humanitarian efforts that is ‘absolutely necessary at this time in the Caribbean.”
“The Caribbean was devastated by Irma, and many countries are down and out. For instance, all 1800 persons were evacuated from Barbuda, Anguilla was devasted, and the British Virgin Islands is 95 percent damaged,” said the diplomat, adding that there is also significant damage to the Turks and Caicos and the United States Virgin Islands.
“We are asking persons to bring relief items as well as cash. This collective effort would go a much longer way in bringing relief to those persons affected by the hurricane. We have scored one for Caribbean unity, by doing this, and we know our efforts would help the suffering,” said Prince.
He is calling on the community to give generously, “be benevolent in terms of doing something that would make you feel good, and make people who are suffering feel better, he added.
Dominica’s consul representative, Shelton Peter Anthony in turn recalled the help his country received in 2015 after Hurricane Erica, and thanked the Consular Corps for coming together to organize relief back then. As such, he felt that it is his country’s duty to give back.
“Not only did Dominicans brought help to our country, I was impressed with how our brothers and sisters from the Caribbean helped Dominica.
“We are all our brother’s keeper and we are happy to be here to help, because maybe its Antigua and Barbuda today, and tomorrow it could be someone else,” said Anthony.
CG Herman Longsworth who said his country Belize was spared the wrath of Irma this time, after receiving least damage from a 2016 hurricane, noted, ‘We are brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and it is incumbent upon us to make sure we come together to aid everyone in need, that is the way it ought to be, and that is why we are here today to support those in need and help in the efforts.”
Like Belize, St. Lucia dodged Hurricane Irma’s vicious attack, but with tropical storm Maria and Jose still hovering in the region, and no end to the hurricane season until November, Vice Consul Jeremiah Hyacinth said he was happy that he was serving at this time to lobby members of the community to come out and support those who are affected by Hurricane Irma.
“The fact that we are here as a team, augurs well for us, we are our brother’s keeper. Caribbean nationals, who live in the Diaspora, can easily help those affected. We can do a lot. I am hoping this is the start of something bigger,” said the diplomat who has been in office for five years.
“Through mobilization efforts, the corps could get more people involved to give to our brothers and sisters,” added Hyacinth.
He said thanks to social media, everyone was kept up-to-date with information from the office of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.