It’s 9:30 am on Saturday 24th June and I am waiting to board a flight to Tobago. In the not too far distance, just beyond the glass doors, I glimpse an ATR taxiing towards my departure gate, which quickens the movement of my fingers across my lifesaver. It was the morning of the flood relief distribution in Barrackpore and unfortunately I could not be there in person to lead my team, leaving me no choice but to coordinate the effort from my cellphone. I had never been involved in a relief effort prior to joining the Progressive Empowerment Party, and in light of my absence, I was nervous. I could already tell that my twenty minute flight was about to feel like twenty hours…
On Wednesday 21st June, following the devastation of Tropical Storm Bret, the executive team decided that the PEP would embark on an international flood relief drive. Distribution was scheduled to occur in three days, a task that seemed superhuman, but little did I know that the experience was about to restore my faith in not only humanity, but in my fellow Trinbagonians.
In those three days, we were to organise everything from drop-off points (local and abroad), to collecting, sorting and packaging the items for distribution. Madness! Amidst my internalised concerns about this tiny window of execution, support began to pour in. I was fielding calls, messages and donations from persons who were eager to help not only locally, but also in New York, Florida, Toronto and even the UK! The PEP had gathered an international following of compassionate individuals who must have been angels in disguise. By Saturday, we had accumulated enough care packages and food hampers to distribute to just about thirty families in the small, rustic community of Barrackpore. I was ecstatic.
The team visited the affected areas that Saturday and was able to reach out to several families. I could not be there but from the reports and photos, it was safe to say that the PEP had successfully executed its first relief effort. I still look back in awe, marveling at the sheer volume of work that such a small team and young party was able to accomplish. Most striking was the outpouring of kindness and generosity along the way, which almost made the effort seem like it was running on auto-pilot after the first day, and it never stopped. In mid-July, we received four barrels from New York and are expecting eight more from Canada, which were sent by our colleagues assisting with the collection overseas. It signals a part two distribution effort to come, which I am reassured the team will expertly coordinate.
PEP’s first food drive brought relief and comfort to those we touched, something that will remain with me and the team forever. More importantly it also showed the true strength of the PEP and its growing membership, setting the bar for even greater accomplishments to come.