Soufriere Scotts Head Recovery Fund
My name is Simon Walsh, for 25 years I have lived full time in the communities of Soufriere, Scott's Head and Gallion. I built my own home and my wife, Wendy, and I lived there until the night of September 18th 2017. On that night Hurricane Maria devastated the Island of Dominica and destroyed our house.
The communities of Soufriere, Scott's Head and Gallion were particulary hard hit and cut off from the rest of the island.
All funds raised in this campaign will be spent in these communities on short, medium term and long term development. Short term is ensuring that people have food to eat as all agriculture is gone for at least a year. Medium term will be fixing as many roofs as possible and getting fisherman back out to sea. We will evaluate their needs and purchase supplies to rebuild engines and restock their equipment. Longer term projects are to store and pipe water from the fresh water spring 1 mile up the road.
To accomplish these goals we anticpate purchasing food, first aid and hygiene products. Roofing materials, engine parts, and boat repair products would be next. Finally once the support of the community is given we would purchase a water tank and piping needed to bring the water source closer.
Our goal is to deliver goods by boat directly from neigbouring islands. We are already working with another aid group intending to leave from St Lucia. We will piggyback on this group to reduce our transport costs.
I have worked in and with this community for over 20 years developing Dive Fest into a huge boost for this community every year. Many of my friends in this community asked me to leave, raise funds and then come home to help rebuild. This is my intention.
To all who have donated or who are thinking of donating I thank you form the bottom of my heart for your trust and belief in me. These funds will directly benefit the communites and expenses will be minimal. We are in constant contact with the community and know day to day what their needs are.
We will post photos to show the relief you will be bringing to these communites who are still in shock and disbelief that a hurricane could grow so fast into a Category 5 , move so slow and with such destruction. We all thank you.
The good news is that this first step has delivered almost 10,000 lbs of supplies to Soufriere, Scotts Head and Gallion. I purchased food, water, fishing supplies, baby and adult hygienic needs, batteries, solar lights some treats for the kids and so much other stuff. Soon a generator will arrive for people to charge their phones and tools. The bad news? There is none relevant to this assistance but the people on the ground will not have electricity or running water until probably February next year. That is long time to suffer the long nights of darkness.
Unbelievably to me the initial phase of this assistance has gone off perfectly, despite huge logistical challenges, lack of experience in doing this work and huge challenges from weather and rough seas we delivered tons of food and needed items to people that really needed it. By volunteering with another aid drive for East Coast communities I ensured that almost no money was spent on transportation, it all went directly to the supplies. After riding down to Soufriere on a truck load of supplies I spent the day accessing the water situation and fishing situation, turned around and made another supply run. After the 2nd run I spent another 4 days in the village checking in with friends and trying to assess my own personal situation of my destroyed house.
This week I will be representing Dominica at a dive show in Orlando and then calculating the remaining funds available and how to best apply them.
As of now I believe that the water project is the best plan for sustainability and relieving the daily misery of collecting water. However some short falls in my thinking have also become apparent, some young boys were asking me to bring books, and it occurs to me that without electricity books could bring a little bit of escape from the situation. So I want to investigate how to get lots of books down to the villages.
I want all of you to know the huge role your donations have played, I have done my very best to ensure the money was well spent, making hundreds of decisions of how best to apply it.
I can tell you that the need is still great, it will be one year before food will ready to eat, fishermen are out already so that is some relief. Water will be a challenge until at least early next year and many many people have lost jobs. I am thinking perhaps some of your donations could go towards a Christmas event to bring some joy to the people of our community.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for your trust and support, it means the world to me and to those in need. Stand by for further updates.
I, Simon Walsh, will withdraw these funds as needed into a specific account we just opened so we can account for all these funds. This account is in the name of Simon and Wendy Walsh.
ALL these funds are directly for the 3 communities of Soufriere/ScottHead/ Gallion. Neither Wendy nor myself will profit in any way from the administration of this account.
As you all know we have lived in these communities for 25 years and our home ( now destroyed) and friends are still back there in this devastation. Our friends actually asked us to leave, to raise help and to come back. That is what we are trying to accomplish here. We have the full support and trust of this community.
This Thursday I fly to Miami to start my first trip. I am piggybacking on another aid group to reduce my travel costs and shipping costs. We will ship cargo to St Lucia and then by boat into Dominica, we have been working on the list of supplies for communities all over Dominica. I will volunteer, and in return if there is any cargo space left I will purchase food, medical and construction items for immediate distribution. My immediate goal is to assess the current situation on the ground to ensure that our funds are spent wisely and to the benefit of all.
After this assessment my intention is to ship all the above supplies by boat either from St Lucia, Martinique or any other island that allows me to purchase supplies at a reasonable price and has easy access by boat. This is very fluid situation and boats are currently running from many islands into Dominica.
As cell phone service is slowly returning to the island I am talking to my community daily. Current needs are still food items, diapers, torches, batteries, fishing gear, basic garden and repair tools are needed and lots of roofing nails, chain saws and possible a generator.
EVERY item I purchase will be as a response to a direct and current need from the people there. This is not guesswork and I believe that everyone who has donated here has done so to show support for my integrity and connection to this community.
I thank you all again and will update you with photos as your money starts to effect peoples lives. All I need now is access to these funds for my departure on Thursday.
Next week we will see the first results of your generosity . Some unexpected delays have pushed us back, but they should be sorted now.
I will be visiting Dominica next week by piggybacking with a friend of mine organizing supplies from Miami. I am volunteering to help them, and also use this trip to assess better current needs. I also will be able to deliver supplies without having to pay any transport expenses. This means even more of your money is going direct to the community. I will post photos from the ground as we move forward next week.
On a personal level I just want to say "I love you ALL" Thank you form the bottom of my heart for your support of our goals here. The people of Soufriere, Scotts Head and Gallion also will thanks you!!