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US charity continues work with diocese post Hurricane Maria

DOMINICA— Archbishop Elect Gabriel Malzaire of Castries, St Lucia visited Food For The Poor’s (FFTP) Coconut Creek, Florida headquarters February 18, and met with its leadership to talk about working together to lift families out of poverty and how Dominica has recovered from Hurricane Maria.

It’s been nearly five years since the Category 5 storm slammed into Dominica on a course that also devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Covid-19 pandemic added to the challenges of families who already were struggling.

Archbishop Elect Malzaire is the former bishop for Roseau, Dominica. He was appointed Apostolic Administrator for Roseau by the Vatican on February 11, the same day he was appointed to Castries.

“The recovery exercise has been very, very strenuous and difficult, especially from the vantage point of having sufficient funds to rebuild all the churches,” Archbishop Elect Malzaire said, according to FFTP’s website,

“We’re still in the process of rebuilding. That’s been the main struggle,” he said.

FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said the charity remains committed to helping families in need in Dominica but also is looking for better ways to have a lasting impact.

“Poverty is not just a single dimension. It’s multiple things that need to be attended to,” Raine said. “We really want to make sure that our work stretches from the relief to the development. We want to partner with the Church and organisations to make sure that we can really do something that has lasting effect.”

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, FFTP sent more than 100 containers of aid to Dominica. The building materials supplied by FFTP were used to repair 12 churches and eight schools. Materials also were distributed to help families repair their homes damaged by the hurricane.

“We’re certainly thankful for the significant help that Food For The Poor has given in the aftermath of the hurricane with materials and lumber and things that were needed to rebuild,” Archbishop Elect Malzaire said.

Raine said the success of a welding shop in Honduras funded by the charity’s donors can be a model for how it helps people in other countries, such as Dominica and St Lucia, where the charity also helps.

The welding shop has provided jobs for 18 people who make bed frames for homes built by the charity. In 2021, the charity purchased more than 2,000 bed frames as the welding shop’s main client.

“This is an example of what you can do to not just create a little bit of work, but a lot of work and creating a market that can now be used as distribution for this output,” Raine said.

Archbishop Elect Malzaire said empowering people to create a future for themselves is a “tremendous model”. “It is not a question of simply giving handouts, which is the much easier thing to do. But to really study needs and address needs as necessary and in the process develop people educationally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.”