Close to 20,000 persons are displaced and over 12,700 evacuees are struggling to get water and necessities amid an ongoing volcanic eruption in the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Coming to their rescue are two leading private Caribbean investment agencies which have pitched in to help. Executives at Invest Caribbean (ICN) and The Ritzury Group, distraught by the explosive volcanic eruption of the La Soufrière volcano on April 9th , immediately got to work, launching a global fundraising and donations campaign to deliver aid and support to the most vulnerable on the island. 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, took time out of their joint international investment efforts to set up “Saint Vincent Volcano Disaster Relief” and a GoFundMe page to accept individual and corporate donations. They are also organizing donations of much-needed relief supplies requested – water tanks, bottled water, N95 masks, face shields, hand sanitizers, towels, feminine hygiene products and other personal items listed as needed – into the island this week by boat, via it’s on the ground operations team. Some of the PPE product is also being donated to local media on the island through the Association of Caribbean Media workers, (ACM.)
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 in order 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 businesses on hold to give our all to this cause. We are 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 the 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 SVG 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 island’s FEMA) 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 ash fall, of similar or larger magnitude, can occur with little or no warning.”
The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines also labouring under the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a recent outbreak of dengue fever. The UN 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 of residents displaced, as well as those now forced into shelters on St. Vincent; namely, to buy and deliver basic necessities in a COVID world: water, food, non-perishables including canned goods and juice, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, soap, deodorant, shampoos, sleeping mats, blankets, feminine hygiene products, masks, water tanks, portable potties, field tents and kitchens, respirator masks with filters, goggles, reflective vests, hygiene kits, diapers, hand sanitizers, manual can openers, buckets, masks, mosquito repellent, first-aid kits, and antibiotics.
Medium term uses of funds include 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 continued education. The long-term goal is to help financially support the long-term needs of many Vincentian families, students and children who may be displaced for months to come.
ICN/Ritzury are committed to working in cooperation with government agencies, NGO’s and any group, corporation, organization or influencer willing to help the people and promises full transparency for all monies raised, including photo and video documentation of presented on the ground donations. Anyone can donate to this emergency effort now at the Saint Vincent Volcano Disaster Relief on GoFundMe .
All images are courtesy of Jevorne Frederick and UWI Seismic Research Unit.A