We continue to co-exist with the volcano. On a clear day we catch glimpses of this awesome new mountain but, more often than not, it continues its activity under low cloud cover and we rely on the MVO reports to keep us informed of its 'progress'. We are back on orange alert following a fairly brief quiet period at amber alert. The Great Alps Falls and Galway's soufriere have been covered with ash and debris and are probably gone forever. Our hopes that we can go back to our homes and businesses in the south remain just hopes, the predictions are that we will continue to be evacuees for an indeterminate time.
Our major project, the home for the elderly at Brades, is gathering momentum. The land has been cleared, and service for electricity and water and the tendering process will begin early May once the bill of quantities has been prepared. By that time the Clerk of Works, Mr. James Lee, a volunteer through the British Executive Service Overseas, will be on island to familiarize himself with the various aspects of the project before construction starts in early June. We have received many generous donations from individuals, organizations and government and have commitments from Cable & Wireless and the Indigenous Banks; however funds are still badly needed. Contributions to the home can be sent to Lystra Osborne, c/o Montserrat Red Cross, or directly to the Bank of Montserrat, 'Montserrat Red Cross, HELP account'.
The Red Cross school operates at our Headquarters at Woodlands. Space is not generous but is adequate for the reduced number of children and their teachers. The accommodation is light and airy.
The workshop also operates at Headquarters. The verandah space is used for the basket work and mop making which are the predominant activities at present. The workshop really needs its own space as storage is limited and, with the closure of the souvenir shop and workshop in Plymouth, there is no outlet from which to sell these goods. We would like to expand activities to include the making of plaques, indigenous jewellery (i.e. using seeds, fish scales, twigs, etc.), sewing of household items and stuffed toys. Craft supplies, however, are in short supply. Epoxy for decoupage, 'Mod Podge', wood carving tools, stuffing suitable for toys, plaster of paris (for plaques), etc. would be most useful. If any craft workers or suppliers could donate some of these items the workshop manager, Ann Nottingham, would be very grateful. If you think you can help, please contact Anna Payne by e-mail or by mail through the regular channels.
The Carol Singing Cocktail party, hosted by the Governor and Mrs Savage at their home before Christmas raised $1425 net for the Home. It was a most successful evening and we extend our thanks to Governor and Mrs Savage for their generous hospitality.
The children's Christmas party was well attended. Over 125 relocated children received gifts from Santa and toys, cakes and drinks were donated.
Over 140 children, aged 5 to 16, from shelters, relocated homes, and non relocated homes that were housing relocated persons left Montserrat the weekend before Christmas to spend the holiday period in Tortola and St. Thomas. The trip was organized by the Women's Guild of Tortola, who raised $20,000 for the purpose, and was coordinated through the Montserrat Red Cross. The children were treated to many exciting and funfilled events, including a luncheon party by the Rotary Club, a day at the movies, two daytrips to the neighbouring islands of Virgin Gorda and St Thomas, a beach party by Keetos and many other activities. The Montserratian children put on a concert on the final evening for their hosts; this was directed by Gertrude Shotte and Desmond Daley. Nineteen children from Montserrat were also treated to an exciting Christmas trip to Antigua. They were transported to Antigua by the Antigua Coastguard and were hosted by families in Antigua who met the children at the Antigua Red Cross Headquarters. Again, the children had a wonderful time. We are so grateful that the children had the opportunity to enjoy Christmas in such relaxed environments away from the stress of the volcano, and with caring families.
The MRC is very appreciative of the donations and encouragement we have received to date. Gifts are distributed to the needy and we continue to provide financial relief to individuals and families where and when needed. Without the kind assistance of our parent organization, the British Red Cross, regional Red Cross groups, and other organizations, as well as generous individuals and groups, we would have a more difficult time providing the help that is so much needed on the island. Thank you and please continue to support us.