The Saint Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF), and the Canaries-UK Association are raising funds to get an ambulance for the community of Canaries.
The target is at least $120,000, an official connected to the initiative told St Lucia Times.
According to the Government Information Service (GIS), the village had been serviced by an ambulance for 20 years until it broke down four years ago.
Andre Lansiquot, the Immediate Past President of the Canaries Village Council, and Head of the fundraising committee, related that the community also procured the previous ambulance by raising funds.
“Canaries is one of the more isolated communities in Saint Lucia, far removed from most health facilities,” a GIS release quoted him as saying.
According to Lansiquot, in 1993 officials teamed up with the Canaries-UK Association with the aim of raising the funds needed to get an ambulance.
“In the past we had instances where people actually died because of the lack of a facility to move them from Canaries to the hospitals. We started fundraising in 1994 and by 1995 we had an ambulance serving Canaries. But in 2015 the ambulance encountered mechanical issues and it was advised that we replace the 20-year-old vehicle instead of trying to repair it,” he disclosed.
Lansiquot, describing the people of Canaries as having always been resilient and self-reliant, said they decided to have a second fundraising drive,.
“This is something that we’ve done successfully in the past, and we take pride in knowing that. Growing up in Canaries, people needed very little cash as the community always rallied together to get things done. This initiative will help rekindle that spirit,” he explained.
Lansiquot revealed that it took a year to raise the funds for the first ambulance.
But he expressed the hope that this time around it will be done within months.
One of several fundraisers for the ambulance initiative is a lunch and auction to be held at the Royalton Beach Resort and Spa. It is being supported by the business community.
Minister for Tourism, and Parliamentary Representative for Anse La Raye and Canaries, Dominic Fedee, said that a fundraiser is planned for Jan 27 at the Royalton where it is hoped that a “significant amount ” of money will be raised.
“We’ve received a great reception from the private sector and the event is already sold out. It is a cultural afternoon which will feature a number of performances of music and dance from various groups in Canaries, and it is when the rest of Saint Lucia will meet Canaries for a very worthy cause,” he stated.
Fedee also revealed that the UK Association has confirmed a fundraiser in London with a view to helping to reach the target.
“We will be unveiling other initiatives geared at ensuring that there is community participation at the fundraising level,” the minister added.
“I want to assure the people of Canaries and Saint Lucia that the government is committed to improving their health services, and this project is in keeping with that philosophy,” he asserted.
Health Minister Mary Isaac commended the community on its resourcefulness.
The Government of Saint Lucia through the Ministry of Health will provide a driver and first-aid personnel, and will facilitate the insurance and maintenance of the vehicle, the GIS reported.