Mon | Oct 25, 2021

Caribbean consulates, GEM USA forge disaster aid alliance

Published:Wednesday | June 23, 2021 | 12:09 AMJermaine Lannaman/Senior Gleaner Writer


Consul general of Jamaica for southern USA, Oliver Mair, believes the partnership that has been struck between the governments of the Caribbean and United States-based natural disaster aid organisation, Global Empowerment Mission (GEM), will go a far way in assisting the region in times of need.

The alliance, which was announced at a GEM new warehouse opening ceremony in Miami, Florida, features a pact with Caribbean countries that will see, among other things, food, water, clothing, housing and other supplies being dispatched with immediate urgency.

“What we are witnessing is the formalisation of discussions between the governments of the Caribbean and the internationally acclaimed GEM to provide disaster relief support in a more timely, cost-effective manner,” Mair told The Gleaner.

“Whenever, as a region, a disaster strikes, be it a hurricane, flood or earthquake, it brings suffering, and what persons need is quick, efficient relief.

“This partnership, therefore, is of great importance as GEM has the connections, the facilities, and the manpower,” he added.

GEM, in association with transport partner, UC Group and Bstrong, has been assisting people in the Caribbean, USA and other countries around the world since 2010 amid the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Since then, they have extended their footprints to countries around the globe, as well as other Caribbean islands, including The Bahamas, Guyana, and St Vincent and The Grenadines.

The Bahamas got assistance in 2019 following Hurricane Dorian, St Vincent in the aftermath of the La Soufriére Volcano eruption in April, and Guyana after experiencing record flooding last month.


“GEM was integral in providing over 33 million dollars in aid to The Bahamas immediately after Hurricane Durian,” explained Bahamas Consul General Linda Mackey.

“GEM is always ready to respond to a crisis, and we are proud to have the whole CARICOM Community being able to benefit from their expertise.”

Trinidad and Tobago Consul General Andria Narinesingh also had a representative at the event.

President of GEM, Michael Capponi, in his remarks, pointed out the inability of his organisation to resist the request for future assistance as it relates to leveraging aid support contacts, Miami-headquartered warehouse facilities, international shipping relationships, and seaport connections.

“Our smart partnerships help us to eliminate overheads, and strategically implement effective supply chain efficiencies,” Capponi said.

“One such is with UC Group, and another is through non-profit organisations like The Little Lighthouse Foundation.

“Our deliverables could not be possible were it not for the organisations, our donors and our sponsors,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mia DeVane, governmental and community liaison for the office of Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami, said her organisation welcomed the establishment of the initiative and the launch of headquarters.

“It’s an honour to be here on behalf of Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to see at first hand the great collaboration and coalition building among consulates, businesses and non-profit sector,” she noted.