Ipswich Caribbean community ships aid to volcano eruption in St Vincent
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
Two Ipswich businessmen are sending aid to St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean where a volcano eruption has displaced around 30,000 people after laying dormant for over 40 years.
The La Soufriere volcano last erupted in 1979 and almost exactly 42 years later it began belching ash and debris on April 9.
The island nation is facing a humanitarian crisis as the volcano continues to stir and the UK Government has committed £200,000 through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Charles Challenger, owner of Ipswich company Challenger Shipping, and local builder Trevor Browne, are sending over pallets of supplies to help the Caribbean residents in their hour of need.
Mr Browne was born in Ipswich, but his father is from Nevis and mother from Barbados.
"The people were forced to vacate because the ash and dust was everywhere and they didn't know if the lava would be coming," he explained.
"The ash even travelled more than 100 miles away to Barbados, where it was so bad that at 3pm it was pitch black.
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"The guttering of homes is all filled with ash and you know how we get when just a little snow comes down.
"People don't know what is going to happen next or how long they'll be away from their homes.
"It's close to home for me because my family are from the West Indies, so I spoke with Charles about getting some stuff together."
The pair have got more than 2,000 bottles of water ready to ship as the supply is contaminated, as well as disinfectant, hand sanitiser, sanitary towels and other hygiene products.
Wickes of Ipswich has also donated 100 buckets for use.
Mr Challenger has been shipping to the Caribbean for over 35 years and has visited most of the islands.
"I see their pain," he said. "My customer's beautiful homes are covered in ash and I understand what they are going through.
"Most of the islands rely on tourism for their main income and with the Covid pandemic then this — there's a knock on effect to all of them."
The donations are due to be shipped today, however more than two weeks on from the initial eruption the island's inhabitants remain at the mercy of foreign aid.