Verna Arthur, chairperson of the Brooklyn-based SVG Relief, Inc., says her organization was “very proud” of efforts made for the first shipment of relief supplies to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the wake of the effusive volcanic eruption, dengue fever and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“SVG Relief, Inc. was very proud of the work that we have done for the first shipment, and we want to thank everybody who contributed to this effort,” Arthur, a prominent Vincentian community activist and cultural figure, told Caribbean Life on Wednesday.
“We want to give special thanks to all those who made this come to fruition,” she added. “We’re getting ready to make another shipment soon.”
Arthur disclosed that members of her group spent the Easter weekend packing at least five commercial bins of relief supplies, which will soon be shipped to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
On March 22, she said emergency supplies, including facial masks and other personal protection equipment (PPEs), were handed over to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment at a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Conference Room in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, according to SVG Relief, Inc.’s liaison Fern Dopwell.
Arthur said the donation was made by Vincentians living in the United States, through two Brooklyn-based organizations — SVG Relief, Inc. and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Disaster Relief Platform (SVG-DRIP).
Sen. Keisal Peters, minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, handed over the items to Jimmy Prince, minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Arthur said.
She said Dopwell — a Brooklyn resident, who is vacationing at home — was present at the handing-over ceremony and gave “brief remarks on behalf of SVG Relief, Inc.”
Dopwell assured that “the organization will continue its efforts to seek opportunities to assist their fellowmen in SVG,” Arthur said.
Prince thanked Dopwell, SVG Relief, Inc. and SVG DRIP for their “generous donation,” Arthur said.
In his remarks, Prince also underscored that “other organizations have assisted during the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by providing emergency supplies, and reassured the public that the health centers are properly equipped with facial masks and PPEs needed for the safety of our health workers,” according to Dopwell.
She said Peters also thanked Vincentian embassies and consulates, Vincentian Diaspora groups (SVG Relief, Inc. and SVG-DRIP), and Keith Boyea of Amerijet, among others, “for providing the financial support needed to ensure that the emergency supplies arrived here in SVG.”
In addition, Dopwell said Peters thanked Gideon “Fessy” Yorke, owner of the Brooklyn-based Standard Shippers for storage and shipping of the items, and other partnering organizations on the SVG joint relief effort, such as CARICON-SVG in Canada; National Council of SVG Associations in the United Kingdom; and SVG Central Florida Organization, Inc. “for making this initiative a success.”
“Peters reminded that in unprecedented times like this, it is important for the Vincentian Diaspora and our respective embassies and consulates to work closely together to ensure that projects such as these, in the midst of a crisis, can assist us here in SVG,” Dopwell quoted Peters as saying.
She further reiterated a call by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves to “’be our brother’s keeper’ now more than ever,” Dopwell said.
She said the donation of 50,000 masks and PPEs from the SVG Relief Inc. and SVGDRIP “will add to the safety net in protecting citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Dopwell said the donation included 39,200 surgical (3 ply) face masks, 2,450 KN95 masks, 10,420 kids masks, 300 N95 face masks, 5,500 gloves, 792 face shields, 400 shoe covers and 100 caps.
Arthur continued to appeal to the Vincentian Diaspora for relief donations, saying that “any donation would be greatly appreciated.”
She said donations can be shipped to SVG Relief, Inc., c/o Standard Shippers, 9502 Ditmas Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11236; “or you may contact O’Brien Simmons, at 347-446-1827, if you need someone to pick up your donation.”
Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood, SVG-DRIP coordinator, said the group’s goal is “to leverage available technology to bring key stakeholders throughout the Vincentian Diaspora together to devise, collaborate and implement major joint initiatives to supplement disaster preparedness and relief efforts in SVG.”
“Through constructive dialogue and cooperation,” Mason-Haywood, who is also chairperson of the Brooklyn-based SVG Diaspora Committee of New York, said SVG-DRIP has “now mobilized persons and groups throughout the Diaspora in the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, US Virgin Islands and St. Maarten to work together” in the “major, joint relief initiative.”