A group of positive young people – members of dance group Riddim Tribe, graduates of the Cuban Scholarship Programme, and CARICOM Youth Ambassadors – have come together to collect aid for residents of Caribbean countries that were impacted by Hurricane Irma last week.
And they are being assisted in their efforts by the Clement Payne Movement.
President of the Clement Payne Movement, David Comissiong said the young professionals decided they would begin humanitarian efforts for Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba.
“They specified these countries because some of the other affected countries – St Martin, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Anguilla – are colonies of Britain, France or the United States, and are likely to get much material assistance from these colonial masters. So, we propose to focus on independent countries that are members of our Caribbean community or CARIFORUM community,” he explained.
Organizer of the drive, Dr Shari Goring, who studied in Cuba, said she felt the need to reach out to her Caribbean brothers and sisters in the spirit of solidarity which Cuban children are taught from a young age.
“We are brought up with a mentality of solidaridad [Spanish for solidarity] and everyone together and strong together. So, when we see our sister islands going through something, it could have easily happened to any of us. I am sure without a doubt that things are not in place for Barbados and we could [have] suffered the same fate. So, I am just saying ‘let me lend a helping hand out to our sister nations, not only Barbados’,” she said.
“It was devastating what happened to Barbuda – it is said 95 per cent destruction. Can you imagine saving for your entire life and set up everything and in a blink of an eye it is gone? It must be difficult for them and any way we can I would like to help.”
Dr Goring added that it was after seeing images of the devastation the Category 5 hurricane caused, that she decided to start the donation drive.
“It was just spontaneous and everyone was like ‘ok, sure, let us put things in place’, and that literally was from the top of our heads and we all decided we are going to do so . . . . We contacted the members of the Clement Payne Movement and they got the wheels moving,” the Cuban scholar explained.
The Clement Payne Centre will be the base for the drive.
“We are going to try and collect some funds and donations, preferably non- perishables items, clothing and medication,” Dr Goring said.
Until Friday, September 15, donations can be dropped off at the Clement Payne Centre between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.; and at the Venezuelan Institute for Culture and Cooperation from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
CARICOM Youth Ambassador Kaila Headley said bins will also be placed at Book Source at the Barbados Community College; the University of the West Indies Guild Office; and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth in Sky Mall.
The items collected will be packed and shipped to Antigua and Barbuda, over the weekend, on a military airplane provided by the Venezuelan government.