Written by Shuli Lo
Translated by Mark Wan
Edited by Diana Chang, Andrea Barkley
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (also known as Vinc./G.), a Caribbean island nation, was struck recently with a double impact: a volcanic eruption and a torrential rainstorm. On May 4, 2021, Tzu Chi USA donated over 75,000 relief supplies, including Jing Si Multi-purpose Foldable Beds, to alleviate residents’ grim predicament. Tzu Chi shipped supplies to the island nation through mutual assistance from the Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles and the SimplyHelp Foundation.
A Double Impact of Volcanic and Flooding Disasters
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has an active volcano, La Soufriere, the second largest in the world. On April 9, 2021, La Soufriere erupted for the first time in 40 years, forcing the evacuation of more than 200,000 islanders. Then the rainy season hit in early May. The torrential storms dumped downpours that turned into flash floods. These storms joined forces with volcanic ash to sweep down slippery slopes, destroy roads and bridges, and demolish buildings. Countless residents were rendered instantly unhoused.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ex-pats had raised dozens of cases of relief supplies for their compatriots. Dr. Cadrin Gill, General Consul Emeritus from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, now living in Los Angeles, contacted the Cultural Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. He asked for help to arrange supply transportation. The Cultural Center thought of Tzu Chi USA’s motto of saving lives with compassion and invited Tzu Chi to contribute to this humanitarian work.
Tzu Chi USA, for its part, took it upon itself to provide relief supplies with particular consideration for the real needs on the ground. It prepared over 4,000 clothes, raincoats, jackets, and more than 70,000 pandemic prevention supplies like face shields, surgical masks, protective coveralls, tables, chairs, and multi-purpose foldable beds for emergent use.
Tzu Chi USA Displays Great Compassion
Louis M. Huang, Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, said, “During this time of need, everybody chipped in. We were moved by the spirit of Saint Vincent expats’ compassion and empathy. I trust that Vinc./G. nationals surely feel this mutual support.”
Sabrina Ho from Tzu Chi USA’s Charity Department indicated that, within a week, Tzu Chi volunteers stood ready with all massive relief supplies. They successfully raised much-needed daily essentials and were prepared to ship.
With this relief effort for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the total number of countries and regions receiving Tzu Chi’s humanitarian aid has reached 123.
To Give Is to Share Blessings
Dr. Cadrin Gill, at a May 4 press conference, thanked Tzu Chi USA, Simply Help, and the Taiwanese government.
He was also interested in Jing Si multipurpose folding beds, chairs, and tables. Dr. Gill said, “With the coming monsoon-like season, we will face another wave of challenges. Therefore, the charity cash and relief supplies are both important and timely, with which we can purchase vaccines to stem the tide of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
These Tzu Chi disaster relief supplies, loaded into seagoing containers provided by Simply Help, have already embarked on their journey to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. On May 9, 2021, Tina Bow, founder of Simply Help Foundation, stated, “These couple of years have been toilsome. However, with all volunteers wearing face masks and keeping social distance to protect one other, we have never slowed down our pace despite the pandemic. Since both Chinese communities and manufacturers are very compassionate, and with Tzu Chi USA being always here to help, we usually ship out a full container a week.”
Just as Master Cheng Yen said, “Most people are suffering, and those of us who have plenty of blessings are duty-bound to help out because it pays to be kind, helping them in money or kind.” With help on their way, we wish these disaster survivors a safe journey through the aftermath and the ability to resume their normal pace of life as soon as possible.