News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. April 28, 2021: With close to 20,000 persons displaced and over 12,700 evacuees struggling to get water and necessities amid an ongoing volcanic eruption on the Caribbean islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), two leading private Caribbean investment agencies yesterday got their first batch of aid donations loaded from Barbados and headed to St. Vincent.
Executives of global private sector investment agency Invest Caribbean (ICN), based in New York and South Florida, and The Ritzury Group, the global project services agency of the Caribbean, based in Barbados, distraught over the explosive volcanic eruption of the La Soufrière volcano on April 9th and following, immediately got to work, launching a global fundraising and donations campaign to deliver aid and support to the most vulnerable on the island.
On Tuesday, after arduous sourcing of donation and a lengthy battle to overcome astronomical air freight costs, red tape, frustration and transportation hassles, 1,000-gallon water tanks; over 500 gallons of water; bales of toilet paper and feminine hygiene products; flashlights, gallons of hand sanitizers; helmets and N95 dusk masks made their way on to the wharf for a vessel that will set sail for Kingstown.
The donations were made possible by kind donors, who pitched in as little as $5 to the ICN + Ritzury “Saint Vincent Volcano Disaster Relief” GoFundMe that was set up hours after the volcano erupted on April 9th.
The team is donating some of the PPE product to local media on the island through the Association of Caribbean Media workers (ACM), while other donations are going to local church pastor for private shelter recipients and the local chapter of international service organization Lions Club.
Ritzury Group’s Danielle Corbin is heading with a News Americas News Network crew to Saint Vincent today, April 28th, to access first-hand the needs on the ground, as the NANN crew cover the damage caused by the volcanic eruptions to put more light on the decimation and the dire straits of the island for the international community.
Both Ritzury Group and ICN are Black, women-led enterprises. ICN’s main focus is matching developers, businesses and governments with the best possible funding options available globally, in the form of debt or equity. Luxury professional services entity Ritzury Group is dedicated to helping regional, local and International companies from many industries make the Caribbean their international business hub.
“The eruption of La Soufrière in St. Vincent and The Grenadines sent a shock wave throughout the Caribbean. With between 16,000 – 20,000 persons displaced from their homes, we are bringing all hands-on deck to assist as much as possible,” said Ritzury Group Executive Chairman, Danielle Corbin, who is leading the on the ground donation effort from Barbados. “What we’re helping prevent is the collapse of an economy, as this disaster plus the current COVID pandemic could set this nation’s progress back 40 years. Our main priority is alleviating the pressure by involving the international community as much as possible to create ways in which we can bring immediate relief in the short term and rebuild the economy in the long term. The Ritzury Group and Invest Caribbean are working relentlessly to see this through, and we have put our business on hold to give our all to this cause. We will be engaging the international community – especially corporations who have the capabilities to assist monetarily and with emergency items – we’re all rallying together to come out the other side of this tragedy better than before.”
Invest Caribbean CEO,Felicia J. Persaud,added, “A modern-day Pompeii is occurring right now in our US backyard in the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, so of course Invest Caribbean has dropped everything to rush to help the people of this amazing island. While there’s not been loss of life, many thousands have been devastated and displaced. The eruptions have left the entire northern third of the island completely desolate, decimating houses, agriculture and livestock, and fouling the water,” she added. “We are so proud to have a partner in The Ritzury Group that also shares our heart to help others, and we will be getting critical supplies on the ground this week and into the hands of people who need them the most. We also invite everyone to partner with us by supporting the Saint Vincent Volcano Disaster Relief on GoFundMe to help us be a blessing, not just for the short term, but for the medium and long-term, as we build back better.”
After decades of inactivity and rumblings beginning in December 2020, La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines erupted explosively on April 9th. The most recent NEMO (the local disaster agency) bulletin states: “The volcano continues to erupt. Its pattern of seismic activity over the last few days is typical of the growth and destruction of lava domes. Explosions with accompanying ashfall, of similar or larger magnitude, can occur with little or no warning.”
The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is also labouring under the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a recent outbreak of dengue fever. The UN has launched a $29 million fundraising campaign to help the government cope as ICN and Ritzury focus on meeting the direct needs of the people displaced and devastated.
The Saint Vincent Volcano Disaster Relief GoFundMe is raising immediate funds to satisfy urgent needs, while medium term, the two agencies plan to use ongoing donations to focus on bigger issues like housing, relocation, clean-up efforts, and humanitarian aid. Long-term relief will take the form of financial aid for affected persons who have fled to neighbouring countries, financial aid for families still in SVG, care of elderly, care of students and access to continuing education.