A major human impact of the volcanic eruption in St Vincent was the loss of personal effects with the collapse of many roofs in the areas worst affected. Many of the displaced people had evacuated with very little of their personal belongings and this left a great need for clothing.
During our interactions with the communities and shelters the same question popped up again and again; if we could support the families with clothes as well. We asked a non-for profit if they could help with a clothes donation. We agreed that a 20-foot container full of clothes, bed sheets and shoes would be an enormous help in this situation. A few weeks later the container was on the way to St. Vincent.
We were able to outsource 217 bales, representing 30,000 pieces of clothing and shoes for distribution to persons affected by the volcano. Planet Aid, Garson & Shaw, and Nic America donated the clothing and the shipping costs. The container was donated through NEMO, the National Emergency Management Organization, with whom we worked together. NEMO provided the sorting center, transportation, and many workers much needed in getting the job done.
We discussed with community leaders and other trusted people to determine how many bales would be enough for the various communities and the best days for the distribution. These community liaisons also organized appropriate places like schools or community centers for the distribution. In this way, the clothing distribution covered the Red Zones on both sides of the island and the distribution also reached people with special needs even in the Green Zone. Approximately 85 bales went to the Windward side and 115 bales to the Leeward side, in addition to shoes that were sorted and paired. In many cases, the staff at the NEMO center helped to sort the clothes, which were then distributed in labelled bags. There were many personal inquiries and we tried in the best way to support single parents and large families/households. The measures put in place ensured that all the 217 bales of clothing reached the right people during a very short period of time.
On the Leeward side, 115 bales went to Chateaubelair, Fitz Hughes, Petit Bordel, Rose Bank, Troumaca, and Rose Hall; in addition the emergency shelters in Barrouallie, Peters Hope, and Buccament. On the Windward side, 85 bales went to Georgetown; NEMO transported these, and were responsible for the smooth distribution as well. A further 17 bales were distributed to disabled and other persons with special needs in communities closer to Kingstown, through organizations such as the National Society of Persons with Disabilities, community and church groups, and private key persons.
After the container landed in St Vincent we put every effort together with many people to complete the delivery within 3 weeks. We worked long hours, we drove many miles, talked to many people and at the end we were happy to see that no clothes were left behind, all pieces of clothing, shoes and towels were in the right place in someone’ home.
Thanks to Planet Aid, Garson & Shaw and Nic America we had the opportunity to give people what they needed and thanks to NEMO and other enthusiastic people supporting our efforts along the way.
Tamás Gubicza, Hungary, Teacher at Richmond Vale Academy.