Local charity Food For The Poor has indicated that there has been an outpouring of support from Jamaicans for its efforts to deliver relief to Haitians who were displaced after Hurricane Matthew ravaged the island earlier in the month.
Chairman of Food For The Poor in Jamaica Andrew Mahfood told The Gleaner that the organisation has received $10 million dollars in goods and $5 million dollars in cash from individuals and companies.
“Already, we have received much more this year than we did when Haiti had the big earthquake,” he said, while providing an update on the donation drive launched by the charity after the passage of Hurricane Matthew.
According to Mahfood, the charity is currently preparing containers to be shipped to its offices in Haiti, from which they will be distributed to those most affected by the hurricane.
“I think the most important thing now is water, so we will be shipping out large supplies. We got a large donation of five containers of bottled water from a private-sector company, and we are going to procure more bottled water as well as more tinned food,” he said.
Mahfood also disclosed that a local private-sector company would be providing additional funds to the relief efforts through a campaign that would see the company matching funds through proceeds from the sale of its products.
New York-based Jamaican banker Gerald Wight Jnr, formerly of BCW Capital, is also to provide the charity with a sizable donation through his network with the chairman of Haiti’s only investment bank. Wight yesterday flew into Jamaica to host local private-sector interests and officials of the Haitian bank to kick-start fundraising efforts.
Mahfood further pointed out that Food For The Poor was well placed to lead the relief and recovery efforts as it has been working in Haiti for an extended period and has built numerous homes and schools since it set up operations there. Food For The Poor Haiti also feeds more than 200,000 Haitians each week.
From all indications, it would appear that Food For The Poor has become the de facto organisation for the relief efforts from Jamaica to Haiti. Even the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management has been channelling its assistance through the charity. It is for this reason that Mahfood has moved to assure Jamaicans that the charity is a faithful steward of whatever donations it receives.
“My family is associated with Food For The Poor. We have very strong directors on the board, and it’s those kind of people that are part of an organisation that when we say we are going to do something, we do it. So when we say goods are going to leave Jamaica and go to Haiti, if the public wants to see the bills of lading and pictures of the goods being delivered to the people in Haiti, they can because we do this every day in Haiti,” he said.