Community responds to volcano crisisCommuntiy responds to volcano crisis
By Pamela Shor, CEO/ Director, North London St Vincent and the Grenadines Volcano Relief Appeal
More than 20,000 people were evacuated from red and orange danger zones situated closest to La Soufrière volcano, after it erupted earlier this year.
The eruption took place on the Caribbean island of St Vincent, on 9th April, and as a result, many islanders were moved to safety in private homes and shelters.
The North London St Vincent and the Grenadines Volcano Relief Appeal was set up as a not-for-profit organisation in response to the emergency.
With little to no media coverage in the UK, our aim to raise awareness and donations to directly support those in need, was imperative at the time.
St Vincent is the fifth poorest country in the eastern Caribbean region, and both its economy and infrastructure had already been detrimentally impacted by the ongoing effects of Covid-19.
On 15th April, Sean Charles, CEO of Crikesh Clothing, contacted me as he had started collecting essential items at his factory to respond to this humanitarian crisis.
At this point, I had been in direct contact with family members and had co-ordinated shipping from the UK and neighbouring islands to provide essential items.
Sean and I put our efforts together and got the call out to the community, who heard our cry and delivered essential goods in abundance to our drop-off point in Edmonton.
We made contact with organisations on the ground and were able to establish the differing individual and organisational needs, working together with many organisations here in the UK to respond to the direct requests.
Whilst we are still working towards collecting essential supplies for the island, we are now focusing our efforts on building the community back better.
We knew how important this project was, because not only has it directly impacted the lives of so many people in St Vincent and the Grenadines by providing essential supplies for basic needs, but it has also provided hope within the community.
The relief appeal has shown that when we work together, we have the ability to make a major difference. It has given myself and others faith in humanity, and shown that a single action can trigger change.
The Tottenham community has played a crucial role in supporting our cause; the masses of contributions and voluntary support enabled us to fulfil our initial aim of making a contribution to the cause within 48 hours.
By reaching out to the community we were able to move mountains without any funding. We collected, sorted and shipped all donations within four days.
The Selby Centre Food Hub has been a massive support to our cause. Working with the support of community organiser Moussa Amine Sylla, who was one of the first to answer our call, we have sent everything requested on our essential items list. The food hub not only provided direct donations for this international cause, but it also acted as a local drop-off point, with the team providing ongoing encouragement and support, inspiring and reminding myself and others that we can do this together.
To date we have sent four shipments and supported six UK organisations who distributed over five containers of aid to many organisations on the ground in St Vincent.
We are working closely with the ACSSVG (Afro Caribbean Services St Vincent and the Grenadines) community charity organisation to tackle food poverty, hunger insecurity, and period poverty as well as to build a community outreach centre that will host a library and learning hub.
Six months on, the ashes have settled, and the island is now on yellow alert. We have provided support to more than 500 families and 100 shelters as well as hospitals and schools.
We would like to thank Tottenham and the extended community for all the love and support, because without your individual donations and efforts, none of this would have been possible.
To stay up to date with the work of the relief appeal, or if you would like to support the cause, get in touch. Instagram @nthldnsvg_volcanoreliefappeal