Sun | Jan 20, 2019

C&W Communications answers call for help

Published:Friday | September 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera


The 2017 hurricane season has dealt a stinging blow to several small Caribbean island nations and the southeastern United States. The death toll attributed to Hurricane Irma alone has risen to 70, with billions of dollars in damages, even while Hurricane Maria delivered a steely punch as a category 5 monster. Many have been left homeless, and stunned - lives interrupted, businesses disrupted and overwhelmed governments in small states like Dominica, Barbuda, and Anguilla grappling with the task of relief and recovery.

The Gleaner caught up with Denise Williams, senior vice president, Cable and Wireless Caribbean, after her company announced the establishment of the regional Cable and Wireless Charitable Foundation with an initial donation of US$500,000 (J$65m) as a direct response to the emerging needs in the region.

Williams said: "It certainly isn't impossible by any stretch of the imagination to think about getting back to pre-hurricane conditions. But it will take a combined and concerted effort involving multisectoral partnerships. This is why we at Cable and Wireless Communications established the regional foundation. Through the foundation, and working with local, regional and international agencies, we will respond immediately as well develop a sustained and long-term response to what occurs in the region."

Employees pitch in

Williams noted that natural and man-made disasters often occur when you least expect it. And there is often little or no mechanism to provide immediate, widespread emergency support to get people's lives back to a sense of normality, and that's why Cable and Wireless decided to set up the foundation.

"We started the foundation with an initial amount of US$500,000 to provide support for humanitarian efforts across the region. Initially, we will serve as a fundraising hub, directing funds to local, regional and international agencies to execute the relief efforts. We have approached our partners, our parent company Liberty Global, as well as our family of companies to join the efforts". The company has also launched a 'Text To Donate' campaign so that customers in the Caribbean can donate by pledging US$1 in aid of the relief effort by simply texting 'GIVE' to shortcode 2300.

Cable & Wireless employees have also added their support with an internal payroll-giving scheme.

"Our employees have been outstanding in their response and are also driving numerous activities across the region to help, including donating to the company's fundraising activities via voluntary salary deductions. Members of the C&W family in Providenciales (TCI), Grenada, Barbados and Jamaica have launched their in-country donation drives to supplement what we are doing as a company, and we expect our other markets to join in soon," she said.