Whether hurricanes, tropical storms, earthquakes, or other natural disasters, and whether in the Caribbean, Latin America or the United States, Partners' volunteers have always responded with the solidarity of a true hemispheric family. And today is no exception.
Mississippi volunteer Chandra Persaud wrote to fellow volunteers and described the destruction mixed with feelings of fortune: "Entire streets are cut off because of trees on power lines. Thankfully, we are okay ... I pray that the rest of the folks are as well...Yesterday Guyana, today Mississippi, no one is immune."
Chandra was referring to Georgetown, the capital of Mississippi Partner country Guyana, which sits below sea level much like New Orleans and other coastal areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. Volunteer Vanessa Benn, who found her Georgetown home underwater in February of this year, expressed her solidarity: "To our Mississippi brothers and sisters who provided relief to the Guyana Chapter when our country experienced its own natural disaster in February 2005 - we are there for you as you were for us."
In 1998, when Category 5 Hurricane Mitch slammed Central America, Louisiana was there to help El Salvador mobilize rebuilding efforts in their community. Now the gesture is being reciprocated, as many volunteers from El Salvador have already written to counterpart volunteers in Louisiana, expressing their concern and offering assistance.
The Partners family in other parts of the hemisphere has also reached out. "We would like to show our solidarity in the face of the terrible hurricane which has caused so many deaths, mourning, and destruction in New Orleans," said Almerinda Garibaldi from Brasilia, Brazil. Colombian volunteer Gabriel Márquez from Medellín echoed similar sentiments, "greatly lamenting what happened this week in the southern part of the country, our prayers for all the families that are suffering so many difficulties."
For Beth Outterson, a US volunteer and former student in New Orleans, the message was one of sharp emotion but also of gratefulness, "I recognize many of the buildings in the photos they show on TV. It is hard to watch. Thanks so much for your empathy for our country as we try to cope with this disaster."
The Partners Oklahoma chapter volunteers opened their homes to Louisiana volunteers, inviting them to join their families, writing that the "Oklahoma Partners would be glad to provide housing if some of the Partners members in Louisiana want to come. The Oklahoma National Guard was deployed yesterday."
If you too would like join the Partners family and express your solidarity for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and their communities, Partners is accepting donations that will be channeled to our local chapters for rebuilding and redevelopment efforts in the affected states. Given the degree of impact, donations are urgently needed.
You may contribute online here or send a check to:
Coordinator of Fundraising and Communications
Partners of the Americas
1424 K Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20005
If you wish to further specify your donation by indicating a specific state affected by Hurricane Katrina, please note it on your check or in the comments field of our online donating page.