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Back to Press Releases main page > September 2004

CCC visits Grenada

"Some say that Ivan had the devil in him," Bishop Vincent Darius said jokingly, as he reflected on just what had happened to Grenada in the wake of Hurricane Ivan. He was sitting on the verandah of his own house, at the time speaking to the CCC's, Special Assistant to the General Secretary, Ecumenical Relations and Theological Affairs, Rev. Dr. Knolly Clarke.

Rev. Clarke who was in Grenada for a solidarity visit on behalf of the Caribbean Conference of Churches, CCC, was accompanied by Adanna James Communications Programme Assistant. He brought greetings from the General Secretary, Mr. Gerard Granado who was unable to be in Grenada that day.

In his greetings, Mr. Granado said that "at a time of such crisis and sheer disaster we must extend whatever help we can, as individuals, as corporate citizens, as groups, as people of a wider Caribbean society, lest we let the ravages of hopelessness seep in and destroy the spirit of the people."

He added that: "the CCC will continue to talk with and accompany its constituency and wider community in Grenada so that all that is physically, emotionally and spiritually broken as a result of this hurricane can be healed."

The visit itself lasted for roughly one hour, during which time Rev. Clarke attempted to find out what the basic needs were for the churches and the wider community.

Rev. Clarke told the Bishop that while he acknowledged the very basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, he noted that other groups were forthcoming with such items, and that it was up to the Churches to provide something different.

Rev. Clarke indicated that the CCC would like to focus on Post Traumatic Stress Counseling. He further identified persons who were willing to work alongside the CCC to assist persons living in Grenada in dealing with the effects of such a traumatic experience. He observed that several of the CCC's longstanding partner agencies had already contacted the CCC, to collaborate on whatever initiatives CCC would be spearheading.

Bishop Darius agreed that there was a need for such counseling as Grenada 's devastation and the trauma of the Hurricane were affecting everyone, both old and young. He also spoke of trying to establish makeshift centres to provide persons with the opportunity to seek that kind of assistance.

Bishop Darius also addressed the issue of the education of Grenadian students, especially those who would be writing CXC and Advanced Level exams next year. While the Grenadian government announced plans to get schools up and running by January next year, the Bishop said that he would be working with other denominations in trying to assemble students especially those writing exams, from the various schools in one particular area. But he acknowledged this task would be great especially since many teachers may consider migrating in the wake of impending unemployment.

Rev. Clarke observed that already parents were considering sending their children to other territories including Trinidad and Barbados .

Regarding Church services, the Bishop lamented that he was unable to have mass in the Cathedral this weekend since only the walls remained standing in the century old St George's Cathedral, but he said that other churches were able to conduct masses. He however observed that attendance was low. One of the factors contributing to this was the need for persons to remain at home to protect their goods from looters. As a result the Christian Churches got together to have an ecumenical service which they conducted over the airwaves of the lone radio station operating at the time, the Grenada Broadcasting Network, GBN.

The gravity of the situation in Grenada was brought home to us when just before our departure, supplies arrived at the Bishop's home, escorted by the police. He told us that the armed police escort was the only guarantee that supplies would arrive to him, since looters were reportedly hijacking vehicles that were transporting goods.

While the Bishop could not, during his short visit fully verbalize what the churches and wider Grenadian community would need at the time, he said that he would outline in order of priority the needs of his community by next week, at which time he would have a better idea of where he could begin.

"But where do I begin?" he asked. The Bishop lamented on his own experience of loss. He showed us his bedroom where the roof was no more, as a result flooding out his personal belongings. He then carried us to his windows, where he joked Ivan did his own bit of artistry with the iron burglarproofing. He then showed us his front door, which was ripped away by fierce winds and flung outside, causing his home to be turned into a virtual pool.

He showed us the schools just surrounding him, among them the Anglican High School , which was almost completely in ruins.

Carl Haynes, a Grenadian studying in Trinidad who was with him at the time said to us, upon reflection, "they say you cannot see wind, well I saw the wind." The Bishop continued by showing us the sea. He said "I stood there for a while trying to figure out what this white cloud coming towards us was.." "..only to realize that the winds were just picking up the sea as it was approaching."

"This was not just a hurricane," he said

The very weary Bishop said he was ever grateful for the show of support from the CCC, and would be liasing with the organization to see what the next move for the Churches in Grenada would be. He said, however, that what was most important right now was just to get the message of hope across to all of Grenada .

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