A Herculean humanitarian effort.
That’s how Vincentian soca star Skinny Fabulous (Gamal Doyle) described the round-the-clock work being done on the island to ensure the safety and meet the basic needs of citizens in the midst of the erupting La Soufrière volcano.
Thousands of Vincentian nationals were evacuated to the south of the island prior to the volcano’s first eruption last week. La Soufrière has been dormant since 1979; however, according to news reports, it began spewing smoke and actively rumbling in December 2020.
The volcano continues to spew large plumes of ash and smoke into the air rendering villages several miles of its radius uninhabitable, Doyle said.
“It’s a huge humanitarian effort. In terms of the physical eruptions the intensity has subsided a little bit, but we still have ash coming from the volcano and much of the surrounding area is still uninhabitable at the moment. Its going to be so for quite a while. So, for a lot of people there is no home for them to go to,” an exasperated Doyle told the Kitcharee on Friday morning.
Since last week’s eruption the “Famalay” singer has teamed up with a group of relief workers to bring hot meals and other supplies to several overcrowded households daily. Doyle said he is heartened that so many Vincentians have opened their homes to their displaced countrymen, but with restrictions on pipe borne water and limited access to food supplies they remain in need of daily aid.
“I leave home every day around now (10 a.m.) I don’t get back home until 9 p.m. at night. It’s a full day of work believe me. Today (Friday) I’m, heading to the Leeward side of the island where we going to deliver hot meals.
“We are delivering hot meals to some of the homes of persons who took in evacuees. We talking about households that took in six to eight people, people have good hearts in St Vincent. We are trying to cover as much as possible and give them lunch every day for at least one week. It gives them one less thing to worry about,” Doyle said.
Aid slow in coming
Doyle said there are several groups on the ground in St Vincent doing similar works in other communities. There is a shortage of safe usable water on the islands as several reservoirs have been contaminated by falling ash. Water distribution remains a priority, he said.
International aid continues to trickle into the island, but the onus is on local groups to ensure people have essentials until more help arrives, Doyle said. Ships carrying supplies set sail for St Vincent from various regional and international ports earlier this week including Trinidad, Miami and the United Kingdom.
“The major supplies they come by ship and some are still en route. Then understandably there is a time from when it lands, gets processed and gets sent to homes. Naturally that process is going to take some time,” Doyle explained.
Despite the daily challenges, he says most Vincentians remain positive and optimistic although he admits being in close quarters has created some issues.
“Some persons are better at coping with being in a strange environment and some people are able to make do with the new reality. Most of the people around are trying to make the situation more, not jovial, but let’s say easier, better to cope. But its human interactions so you have arguments and skirmishes. Remember you are taking people from different parts of the island and scattering them to the south of the island,” Doyle related. Vincentian soca act Problem Child (Johnny Fontaine), meanwhile, took to Instagram to send positive messages to his countrymen. Problem was expected to arrive on the island on Friday evening.
“We are going to get through this, my people. We are a blessed nation. Never forget that. Please help where necessary if you’re willing and able. God bless you all and God bless our nation,” Fontaine wrote.
Doyle was able to share a few smiles from the island on his Instagram page where he documented a recent visit to a children’s home. The “Happy” singer took several buckets of KFC to the children to help lift their spirits.
“Yuh know KFC means a lot to Trinidadians? Well, it also means a lot to Vincentians. Is one of them things when u pass exams your parents reward you with a nice box of chicken. In this case it represented a moment of joy and we were happy to dedicate it to the kids. It’s good to see them smile even during difficult times, right?” he concluded. Visit @oxygen_mas on Instagram for information on how you can donate resources towards the ongoing relief effort in St Vincent.