Drawing on the generous contributions made by the St. George’s University alumni community, the School of Medicine Alumni Association (SOMAA) held a successful charity drive this spring to help those affected by the La Soufriere volcano eruption on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“On behalf of the SOMAA, we are so thankful to our devoted alumni for helping us raise more than $20,000 for this worthy cause,” said Bruce Bonanno, MD ’83, president of the SOMAA. “SGU has had a rich history with the people of St. Vincent. As the volcano erupted again this spring, we felt it crucial that we do our part as an organization to support the island during its time of need, and we could not have done it without your participation.”
More than 20,000 people were displaced when La Soufriere erupted in April. While many have since returned home, more than 2,000 people still live in shelters, with hundreds of homes needed to be rebuilt according to Dr. Rosalind Ambrose, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Medical Association and a 1983 graduate of the SGU’s School of Medicine.
SOMAA gifted the money to the SVG Medical Association, which encompasses medical professionals—many of whom are SGU graduates—who live on the island. The association initiates a number of community service and public health outreach events for the people of the island and plans to use the money to help people replace lost household objects.
“We are ever grateful to the heartwarming efforts by SGU’s Alumni Association and the alumni community to assist St. Vincent right now,” Dr. Ambrose said. “A number of evacuees from the ‘Red Zone’ have lost everything, and the government is relocating them entirely. The donation will be used to help these families replace everyday items in their homes and help them regain a sense of normalcy.”
Seismologists are still monitoring the volcano and are not yet in the position to say whether it has returned to a “sleep state” because it is still giving off ongoing steam and gas emissions and causing minor earthquakes, Dr. Ambrose said, adding that the recent tropical storm/hurricane produced several lahars that further damaged villages near the volcano.
For more than 25 years, School of Medicine medical students completed a semester of their basic sciences on the island. When the last eruption happened in 1979, students who were there studying and working jumped in to help the island, even as medical students. Years later, they helped to donate more than 8,000 meals to those affected by the volcanic eruption.
“We will continue to help the people of St. Vincent in any way we can and we thank our alumni for their support,” Dr. Bonanno said.
The SOMAA continues to accept donations of any size for those affected by the volcano. To contribute, please send monetary donations to: https://www.sgusomaa.org/donations/
– Laurie Chartorynsky