May 26, 2021 | St. Croix, US Virgin Islands | Royston Philbert/NCC Staff and Inter-American Division News Staff
Seventh-day Adventists across ten islands in the North Caribbean region recently joined forces to provide urgent assistance to the hundreds of people displaced by the eruptions of La Soufrière Volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The volcano, which had been dormant for more than 40 years, sent lava streaming down the mountain and engulfed the southeast Caribbean’s atmosphere with toxic ash last month.
“We have discovered there are still major gaps in basic needs, including food, water, hygiene, cleaning kits and personal protective equipment,” said Pastor Alexander Isaacs, health ministries director for the church in the English Caribbean territory. “The needs are widespread, and we are working around the clock to get these essential items to those impacted.” At the start of the eruptions on Apr. 9, 2021, more than 20,000 people were displaced and unable to return to their homes.The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), through its local North Caribbean Conference Director Wilmoth James, collaborated with the region’s Community Services leaders to commission a prompt response to alleviate the discomfort of residents on St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Leaders also collected a special disaster offering throughout all of its congregations on Apr. 24.
Four 20-foot containers filled with supplies were collected in St. Croix. Other containers collected last month in St. Eustatius, Anguilla, Tortola, and Sint Maarten, included thousands of cases of water, personal hygiene care packages, cleaning agents, toiletries and clothing. In addition, church members in St. Thomas raised thousands of dollars for St. Vincent. More shipments were sent this month as well, church leaders said.“Many of you have watched the heartbreaking pictures of the effects that this seismic activity has had on the people of St. Vincent,” said Pastor Desmond F. James, president of the church in the North Caribbean Conference, as he appealed to church members across the region earlier last month. “We are extremely grateful and thrilled by the robust response as the peoples of the North displayed a massive, compassionate response in cash and other assistance to our brothers and sisters in disaster.” Already, church leaders have distributed the supplies to those affected.
Wilmoth James said that ADRA emergency teams worked on the ground to mobilize members to support the need on the island of St. Vincent. “We are grateful to God for the membership coming together for this mission of mercy. We believe that several factors contributed to the response including the structure set up by ADRA over the years in the island territories, ADRA depots established on every island to activate during emergencies, and the generosity of church members. “Members [in our territory] know what it meant to sleep without a roof on their head and to be in need of water,” he said. “The fact that there is a spirit of generosity still alive in the membership of the North Caribbean Conference is wonderful to see.”Peters said that “members shopped for clothes and food items, communities collaborated with the church and made an all-out effort to lend support to the initiative.”
Donated supplies went to the people still at the 10 shelters overseen by the Adventist Church in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Additional supplies were provided to the daily feeding program still ongoing by the church on St. Vincent.Church members in the North Caribbean Conference will continue to raise funds to support in the aftermath of St. Vincent in the days and weeks ahead.