In case you’ve been missing the news, let’s start with numbers. On September 6th Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, swept the Atlantic whipping sustained winds of up to 185 mph. Within 2 days, those in her path suffered disasters of varying degrees, all widespread and devastating to say the least. Lands affected include Barbuda, Anguilla, Dominica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, and Cuba; the list, however, is continual. The one assumption that can be drawn is that help is needed.
Of all of these beautiful places decimated by the storm, Barbuda and Anguilla were the hardest hit. To give you an idea of the destruction, the hurricane was recorded at 348 miles wide – the island of Barbuda is a mere 62 square miles. Declared uninhabitable, evacuation of all residents to its sister island of Antigua was the only option. With 70% of evacuees having been taken into homes of Antiguan citizens, the other 30% remain in emergency evacuation centers such as Antigua’s sports stadium, converted nursing homes, and the like. The people of the island of Anguilla were not so lucky as to have a place and the means to leave. The first delivery of aid from the island’s parent government, The UK, arrived SIX DAYS after the storm passed. There is no running water, barely any electricity; many of the residents are without supplies to repair their damaged homes or even food. With Tourism providing over 60% of the Islands GDP, there is very little chance of it being able to rehabilitate on its own. The Four Seasons resort, which is the Island’s largest private employer, has stated that it will take at least 6 months to reopen. All things considered, these countries need more than the hope that the world will come to their aid; they need the PROOF.
I am currently in Barbados, and the community here is taking efforts, very seriously, into their own hands. The slogan of one of the major radio stations has been “One People, One Caribbean”, and the people have been calling in to pour out support—and funds. Local businesses and foreign businesses based on the island have donated in major ways, with two major banks of the island already giving close to $1M. Individuals are sending care packages and the like, with some tradespeople packing their tools and setting out themselves. The motion has been both beautiful and compelling. What a force to be reckoned with! Imagine if a majority of the aid for these countries came from us, the people?
As Africans of the Diaspora, we SHOULD be caring for our people. We constantly speak of Unity; is there a better time to show it than now? The U.S. government provided a mere $100,000 to relief, which seems to be a slap in the face and is only a drop in the bucket. There are more than 42 million of us in the U.S., (and as much as I’d hate to sound stale but) imagine if each one of us gave just a dollar… We are one collective, the sooner and more frequently we act like it, the better off we will all be. It is past due time for us to become more responsible for ourselves as a whole because if we all help those in need, no one would be in need for long.
The most immediate need is for food items (particularly non-perishable), baby items, generators, blankets, mosquito tablets, construction materials, school supplies and pet food. No donation or contribution is too small! I’m volunteering here in Barbados and have opened an account to receive donation funds. The Paypal link is www.paypal.me/STCDisasterRelief and the associated email is StregthenTheCollective@gmail.com. Feel free to email me in regards to volunteering your time and skills as well! Links to other reputable Organizations and Addresses for care packages & supplies will be listed below. As a last resort, by all means, plan your winter vacation this yr to be spent in Antigua, as tourism is the country’s mainstay for sustenance. See you there!
Antigua Commercial Bank
Barbuda Relief and Rebuilding Fund: Account No. 100004717.
Caribbean Union Bank
Barbuda Relief & Rebuilding Fund, Account No. 100 013 72.
Official Barbuda Relief Fund
APANY (Founded by the US Anguillan Diaspora Association)
https://www.apa-ny.org [501 ( c ) 3 Tax-Deductible]
Help Anguilla Relief Fund
Blanchard’s Hurricane Relief
c/o Thomas Kelly
APLO Relief Initiative
110 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
c/o Debbie Tabor
9715 Dahlia Avenue
Palm Beach Garden, Florida 33416