Thousands of residents of St Vincent have been evacuated and left relying on the kindness of strangers following a devastating volcano eruption on the former British colony.
(Mirror.co.uk) – As a child I used to watch, fascinated, as my parents brought large barrels home every few months to send to the Caribbean.
They’d pack them to the brim with food, clothes and other items to ship over to our extended family on the island of St Vincent.
It took some doing given we were struggling ourselves, living on a council estate in Hackney, East London, during the 1970s and 1980s.
Yet growing up I came to realise that however badly off we were – and we were poor – we had relatives in the Caribbean for whom things were a lot worse.
So seeing my parents’ homeland caught in the grip of the La Soufriere volcano has been particularly painful.
When The Mirror first ran coverage of the call for residents of the island to evacuate earlier this month, my first thought in a week off work wasn’t to open my laptop to write a piece lobbying for support from a government whose £200,000 donation isn’t nearly enough.
It was to do something meaningful. Send help. Do the kind of practical thing my parents did regularly.
St Vincent is a former British colony and current member of the Commonwealth.
The latest series of “explosive events” from the Soufriere volcano –starting around 10 days ago – have plunged the nation, blanketed in a layer of ash, into chaos.
Around 16,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes. Many have suffered power outages and been without water.
Experts reckon the eruptions could continue for days, maybe even weeks.
Thousands of people are now living in emergency shelters. They need help. Why are they not getting it?
Many of the Windrush generation who came here and helped rebuild this country after the Second World War were from St Vincent.
It is deplorable that it took a message of support from the Queen last week to wake people up to the situation, described by the UN as a growing humanitarian crisis.
The Vincentian Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonzalez, openly wept at a press conference last week at the random acts of kindness from citizens and neighbouring countries to house and help those made homeless.
There are many terrified relatives here, crying tears of helplessness at the devastation and the lack of support from this country.
Once again they – we – are being left to fend for ourselves.