Standing in Solidarity
A Cayman Islands delegation, led by the Hon. Premier McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP, delivered 18,000 pounds of relief supplies and a cheque for US$50,000 to the people and government of St. Lucia yesterday (Thursday, 11 November).
Noting that the Cayman Islands stand in partnership, both with St. Lucia and St. Vincent, the Hon. Premier, McKeeva Bush said, "I wish we could offer more, but with these donations come our prayers."
Having personally experienced the aftermath of Hurricanes Ivan and Paloma he explained that he understood the challenges faced by those affected and offered some advice.
"This is the time for everyone - opposition members, non-government organisations and citizens - to work together. Everyone's cooperation will make the recovery process much faster and easier."
Grateful for the donations, St. Lucian Prime Minister Stephenson King said, "The fact that you've come to our assistance in our time of great need has brought you 10,000 miles closer to us.
"We feel so warm and comfortable and we know we have a friend out there. In future times of need we too can reach out when there's a challenge on the other side."
Immediately, he dedicated the monetary donation to St. Lucia's children who he said had lost learning equipment including textbooks, computer labs and school furniture.
He added, "This will go a long way in assisting at least one classroom in getting back to normalcy and getting on with their education programme."
Premier Bush presented another cheque for US$50,000 to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Director General, Dr. Len Ishmael, who accepted it on behalf of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and their Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.
"Thank you so much, Premier Bush, for making this trip and for standing in solidarity with your Caribbean brothers and sisters," she said. "We share a common bond historically. We are a family and this is a mark of friendship from your people to ours."
But even with the monetary and other relief donations, some 96,000 St. Lucians remain without potable water. During Hurricane Tomas the pumping and production centre at the island's dam, capable of generating 8 million gallons of water daily, was damaged.
As such, Operation Blessing International has committed two water filtration and purification plants capable of filtering and disinfecting 10,000 gallons of water per day.
The Charity's Director of International Disaster Relief David Darg, who accompanied Premier Bush on the relief mission, remained in St. Lucia to assist with installation of the plants and training locals in the operation and maintenance of the equipment.
St. Lucia's Minister for Social Transformation, Public Service, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports Lenard Montoute, explained that nationals were literally fighting for water that had been trucked post-Tomas to affected areas.
"For you to drop in drinking water... I can assure you that there's no better gesture," he said.
"The water purifiers will be especially valuable since we have people accessing water from some undesirable sources and we want to avoid the outbreak of any waterborne diseases."
In the meantime St. Lucian engineers and technicians, along with experts from Trinidad and Grenada, continue working at a feverish pace to repair the broken dam.
Reflecting on Cayman's terrible experience during hurricane Ivan, Premier Bush said that his visit to St. Lucia brought back many memories.
"Remembering how desperate our situation was then, it was a great feeling to know that we could help the people of St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in their time of need."
Among the individuals accompanying Premier Bush on the special Cayman Airways charter to St. Lucia were Deputy Speaker of the House, the Hon. Cline Glidden Jr.; Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development Chief Officer Carson Ebanks, MBE, JP; and Chief Officer for District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture Kearney Gomez, MBE, JP.
Others included Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor, MBE, JP; West Bay MLA Capt. Eugene Ebanks, JP; Operation Blessing International President Bill Horan; and Cayman Islands Red Cross Disaster Manager Hemant Balgobin.
For further information contact: Kenisha Morgan