Efforts by corporations to assist Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma continue even as they express their sympathies to all who were impacted.
The latest companies – Digicel, bmobile, United Way Trinidad and Tobago (UWTT), and GraceKennedy Money Services (GKMS) – are doing so in ways both big and small for the people of Barbuda, St Martin/St Maarten, St Barthélemy, Anguilla, the US and British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Bahamas and Cuba.
According to a press release, bmobile partnered with UWTT to raise funds for Hurricane Irma relief efforts via a text-to-donate campaign. bmobile customers can text “help” to 6683 and $5 would be automatically deducted from their account to help rebuild homes and economies. Individuals could donate as many times as they want.
UWTT Community Impact Manager Linda Ramsumir said, “We are excited about using this to connect to the public. It is so important. Money is the most effective input to mobilise and the “Text to Donate” initiative opens up the means for everyone to give. You may think that it’s only big corporations and wealthy individuals who can give, however, by working together every small contribution can make a difference – you can do it through just one text.”
TSTT’s Vice President Marketing, Camille Campbell explained that all contributions would go into a virtual account and when the campaign was closed off, TSTT would issue one cheque for the entire amount collected. Contributors would be informed how much was collected, how it will be used, and which organisations would receive the cheque.
UWTT CEO Jennifer Sancho added that since non-government organisations were collecting basics supplies like food, water, clothing and medicine, they were looking at long-term needs. “We are looking at helping to rebuild communities as well as the immediate post-storm needs. This is going to be a complex and long-term initiative. We’ll identify suitable partners on the ground in the islands who need the most help, and work with them. Of course, this depends on the amount of money collected, so it is important we work collectively.”
Meanwhile, Digicel said it had mobilised over 200 fleets of engineers, technicians and riggers to restore network connection as soon as possible.
In its release on Friday, the company said its response teams were on the ground in affected countries and they continue to work around the clock. It said Digicel was also working with Governments of the region and disaster response agencies to establish the pressing needs of the people so that it can activate accordingly.
Commenting on the Digicel response, Caribbean and Central America CEO, Vanessa Slowey, said, “Equally, we are committed to helping the islands to recover and rebuild in the aftermath of these hurricanes. As we continue to manage the impact of Irma and anticipate the passage of Hurricane Jose swiftly behind it, we would like to assure the people of these islands that we stand with them now – and into the future.”
In addition, GKMS, which includes Western Union, FX Trader, and Bill Express, has decided to allow persons sending money to and from Antigua and Barbuda to do so free of charge as of yesterday.
GKMS also encouraged its customers across the region to download and use the Western Union app to track their remittances and to find their nearest locations.