Jamaican private sector bringing relief to Dominica
"We have a collective responsibility to support our Caribbean brothers and sisters in whatever way possible," said Brian Jardim, chief executive officer of Rainforest Seafoods.
The business leader joined several companies in a major private sector initiative to bring relief to over 75,000 residents of Dominica, who were severely impacted by the passage of Hurricane Maria recently.
Krishna Vaswani, sales and marketing director at Quality Incorporations VII Limited, is spearheading the effort and coordinating the collection of goods for shipment to the beleaguered island.
Team members from all the Jamaican firms involved are volunteering to sort items and pack containers at his warehouse. Rainforest Seafoods is also making its locations in Kingston and Montego Bay available as drop-off points.
Some of the entities involved are Wisynco, Goodlife (Chas. E. Ransom Ltd.), Dream Entertainment Jamaica, Coldfield Manufacturing Ltd. (Big Joe), Chad-Ad Distributors Ltd., Fontana Pharmacy, PriceSmart, NCB Foundation, Chocolate Dreams, the Heart Foundation, Immaculate High School and the Jamaica Manufacturing Association (JMA), which is collecting products from its membership. More participants are expected to come on board by next week.
Currently, volunteers are sorting and packing a 40-foot container with non-perishable food items, hygiene products, water and juices. The plan is to fill three more containers. One container will hold items to assist with rebuilding efforts, including construction materials, since the majority of structures on Dominica have been damaged or destroyed. The second will be loaded with food, sanitary and water supplies, and the third container will be filled with a mixture of needed items.
Reaching those most in need
Meanwhile, the group is liaising closely with private sector leaders in Dominica to handle the collection of supplies and their proper distribution when they arrive on the island. This will ensure that vulnerable citizens - seniors, children and those who are most in need are reached.
Vaswani, Jardim and his colleagues are also keeping in touch with their counterparts in St Lucia and Martinique, in a remarkable regional effort to assist Dominica.
"We are one Caribbean. We export to these islands, so we are partnering with our friends and colleagues to help out. It's a collective effort, and we are happy to assist those in urgent need," Jardim said.
There are currently no flights in and out of Dominica, but the seaport there should be open by next week, as reports are that it was not badly damaged. The Dominican authorities are keeping the team updated regarding the reopening of the port. Goods will be shipped by air when planes become available.
The private sector partners have also set up an account. Cash collected will be used to purchase items to supplement the goods already collected. Friends and colleagues overseas are also offering support.
The team decided to help Dominica, because there is a perception that the island may be somewhat side-lined in relief efforts. Neighbouring countries are receiving comparatively greater post-hurricane assistance from European partners. After the devastation of the island by Maria, the need is great.
Persons can make donations in cash or kind at drop-off points in Kingston at Quality Inc., 258 Spanish Town Road and in Montego Bay, Rainforest Seafoods, 25 Coconut Way, Montego Freeport. For more information, persons can call 758-7447, 562-9999 or 520-7170.