Helping Dominica Rebuild through Dominica Relief Christmas Soiree

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(c) Robert Larocque

BY ALYSSA MAHADEO 

With the impending holiday season just around the corner, everyone is doing their part to give back to the community, especially the citizens of the Dominica Diaspora here in Toronto.

Since the destruction left in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika that hit the island of Dominica this past August, there have been many fundraising efforts set up throughout the community to aid rebuilding the infrastructure on the island. The Dominica-Toronto Relief committee held it’s final fundraiser for 2015 on Saturday December 5th, hosting a Red and Green Independence Christmas Soiree.

Bishop Alice Douglas of Dominica, official spiritual advisor for the event opened the evening with a prayer. She touched on the desolation that swept through Dominica on Thursday August 28, 2015 when Tropical Storm Erika caused unprecedented devastation island-wide in Dominica. The storm left thirty-one people dead and thirty-five still missing. Dominica’s prime minister has pleaded for more international aid to help rebuild the tiny Caribbean country after Tropical Storm Erika tore across the island, devastating villages, wrecking bridges and leaving a reconstruction bill worth half the country’s annual GDP.

About ten inches of rain fell in a few hours, turning rivers on this mountainous island into torrents and hillsides into deadly mudslides. The capital Roseau was engulfed by water and the island’s main airport is still out of action and will cost over $15 million to repair.

The evening was filled with entertainment that included the incomparable eight year old Little Edward, R&B Singer Nailah Tee, Pastor Shirley Simpson, Gospel Artists TT Turner, Michelle Lake & family and Fitz Aransaevia.  Jamaican Opera singer Robert Owen and Dominican songstress Hermina George caroled beautiful Christmas music and Cheyenne Shililngford and Kerry-Anne Write entertained the crowd with an uplifting Afro Creole dance.

Season’s greetings were welcomed from Senator Toabias Enverga Jr. and his beautiful wife and attending on behalf of the Consular Corps was Consul General for St. Lucia, Mr. Michael Willius.

Frances Delsol, The Commonwealth of Dominica’s Trade and Investment Commissioner in Canada, brought greetings from the Government of Dominica and informed attendees that Dominica was rebounding nicely. Although they were doing well, she indicated that the fundraising efforts would continue and provided an update on the efforts in Toronto to date.  She indicated that the GoFundMe Campaign online had raised over $76K, while over $20K had been collected from fundraising concerts and about $10K had been contributed in private donations to the Bank of Montreal.  Also three 40’ containers valued at over $150K had been shipped out to Dominica with food, clothing, medical supplies, building materials and toiletries.

Most of the island’s infrastructure has been damaged and that has inflicted severe economic and social repercussions on its people.  The government declared a nationwide disaster status and the damage to infrastructure alone has been estimated at US $226M.  The damage that the island suffered from flooding has been as bad, if not worse than the damage inflicted by wind from far more powerful hurricanes.  The Prime Minister of Dominica has indicated that Tropical Storm Erika put the island back twenty years.  

The evening ended with a medley of local Dominica Christmas renditions such as ‘Chantez Noel’, and ‘Dominik Pas Ni Nieges’ by the Dominica Christmas Chorale led by Lucy Hamlet.

The Dominica-Toronto Relief committee hopes to organize one or two more events in 2016 to continue the fundraising to efforts and aid with the infrastructure build on the island. Dominica has been resilient in re-building the country and there is still a great demand for building materials. The country and it’s citizens are grateful to help from their counterparts abroad providing food, clothing and medical equipment while they were in dire need.

The public is urged to help Dominica rebuild, 100% of all proceeds from the Diaspora Relief Concert will go directly to disaster relief in the Commonwealth of Dominica. The CDOA also has ongoing appeals for cash donations through a GoFundMe campaign (http://gofundme.com/da-erikarelieffund), which has been sanctioned by the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica, and to the organization’s Emergency Fund at the Bank of Montreal (Transit #2924, Account #8330-256).

The CDOA also accepts non-perishable donations at various locations around Toronto. Contact domincaassociation@sympatico.ca to find out the location nearest to you, or visit the organizations website at www.domincaassociation.ca

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