The Church of the Nazarene in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been providing food, water, sanitary and hygiene products, mattresses and other relief items to thousands of persons affected by the explosive eruption of La Soufriere volcano.
The 9 April 2021 eruption of La Soufriere resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis in the country in over 40 years. The northern third of St. Vincent is temporarily uninhabitable, and over 22,000 people, representing over 4,500 families, or one fifth of the nation’s population, have been displaced. Many of them have no way of providing for their basic needs, including food and water.
In response to the eruption, the Church of the Nazarene established a distribution centre at Randy’s Warehouse at Stoney Ground. From this site, on an almost daily basis, the church has been offering relief items to people evacuated from the Red
Zone, people in the safe areas who are hosting displaced persons, and members of the general population who are in need.
“We do it in three ways: we try to help those who come directly to us and tell us that they are in need. We also go to the shelters and give material support to the shelters in the form of water and foodstuff, and sanitary products. We also go to private homes that are hosting evacuees, because we know that most of the people are in private homes and other private facilities,” said the Reverend Kelron Harry, superintendent of the Windward Island District of the Church of the Nazarene.
Reverend Harry, as is his wife, Ro-Anne Harry, is a director of the Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) in the Caribbean, a ministry that walks alongside local churches in their efforts to meet the needs of children, families, and communities.
NCM SVG has so far received financial assistance from the Mesoamerica NCM office.
In addition, they have been the recipients of three 40-foot containers and several boatloads of relief items from Is There Not A Cause? (ITNAC) — a Christian charity based in Trinidad and Tobago, which has been a major sponsor of the church’s relief efforts.
Substantial support has also come from Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago — a subset of the U.S.-based Christian organisation, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — a United Nations agency. The Church of the Nazarene in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and the Leeward Islands has also made significant contributions to the effort.
The distribution is done with the assistance of volunteers, who are mainly members of the Church of the Nazarene in SVG.
Reverend Harry, who is Pastor at the Arnos Vale Church of the Nazarene, said: “We are also grateful for the assistance of our volunteers. Some have been packing family bags. We have a list of items that we ensure are included in these bags. Others are helping to offload containers, load at the port, liaising with persons whose personal packages arrive in our shipment; others are responsible for coordination and security in the yard.”
The Church of the Nazarene has also been using its logistics mechanism to help with the transportation to St. Vincent of packages sent by relatives and friends of Vincentians mainly in Trinidad.
Reverend Harry said that the church is grateful for the contribution of Randy Kennedy, owner of Randy’s Supermarket chain, who has offered use of his warehouse, and the Management of Russell’s Shopping Centre, which has also provided warehouse space. Gibson’s Building Supplies has assisted with trucking and the use of their forklifts.
“So many people have been partnering with us as we try to help those displaced by this disaster,” Reverend Harry said.
He said that the church is now moving to decentralise the distribution, adding that persons can reach out to the Church of the Nazarene congregations in Enhams, Cane Hall, Arnos Vale, Ottley Hall, Rillan Hill and Penniston regarding their needs and any assistance the church might be able to provide.
“We want to thank God for all that is happening. If you are in need, we might be able to help you. We are right at the Randy’s Warehouse near the parking lot of Massy’s
Stoney Ground… We cannot help everyone, but I promise you, we will help everyone that we can,” Rev. Harry said.