Sat | Nov 27, 2021

Xaymaca initiative aims to provide support for St Vincent

Published:Saturday | April 17, 2021 | 12:15 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
As she helps coordinate Xaymaca International’s response, Kandi King, one of the carnival band’s directors, said the needs of those impacted in St Vincent are growing.
As she helps coordinate Xaymaca International’s response, Kandi King, one of the carnival band’s directors, said the needs of those impacted in St Vincent are growing.

Xaymaca International is launching an initiative to support the recovery efforts in St Vincent. The popular carnival band has launched a drive for the collection of essential items as the island faces a shortage of necessities. From a humanitarian standpoint, “It did not take much for us to want to help,” said Xaymaca Director Kandi King.

“After speaking with our contacts there, we recognised how truly in need they are of things such as water and non-perishable foods, but also, soap, toiletries, baby and feminine hygiene products. It was really important for us to try to rally support,” King told The Gleaner.

She added, “This is one of us, one of our islands, we have friends there, masqueraders there ... but, above all, we have always believed that, if we are in a position to help, that we should.”

The continued eruption of La Soufrière volcano has wreaked havoc on communities in the northern part of St Vincent, with an estimated 20,000 persons displaced and currently being housed in shelters.

For her part, King said the initiative is to show that every little contribution will help. “It was heart-breaking to see what was happening and more so to know that it [the volcano] has been relentless for about a week or so now and we don’t know when it will end. This is catastrophic and on a scale that has not been witnessed by the residents in the last 40 years,” she said. “We stand together in Caribbean unity, and if we can celebrate together when times are good, we must can help when things are not, and furthermore stand in support of our sister Caribbean nation in her time of need.”

She explained that, as we speak, the needs of the people are growing, noting that the pandemic is still very present and, as such, items such as respirator masks with filters, goggles and shields will be considered some of the essential items. The ashfall in St Vincent has become a major health concern not only on the ground but in neighbouring islands like Barbados and Grenada.

“We know that you are a resilient, determined and patriotic people. Xaymaca stands by your side in full solidarity, and we will spare no effort to help you. [We are] more than ready to assist in the coming weeks as you rebuild your country,” King said as part of her heartfelt message, adding that, “if we stick together and look after one another, we will all come out even more resilient and more unified than ever.”

Speaking to The Gleaner from St Vincent, Karen Veira, director of Oxygen Mas, explained that many of the shelters are expected to be filled for the next four months. “Persons have lost their homes and it will take some time to rebuild and relocate. Also, some of the shelters are schools which will directly affect the children of St Vincent in the coming months, anywhere from four months to the rest of the year as we find ways to navigate the disaster,” she said.

According to Veira, the volcano’s last eruption was early Friday morning, and it has happened at least once every day, some days twice, since Friday, April 9. “We welcome all the help we can get at this time,” Veira said.

Persons interested in contributing items to the Xaymaca Initiative may do so at 13 Lindsay Crescent or call (876) 454-7857 for more information. Collection will begin on Monday, April 19 and last until Friday, April 23, between the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.