(By Mondale Smith) With representatives of religious, Governmental and civil society as well as religious bodies all converging in one room on a regular basis the human element that fosters unity through heart is taking over resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars for those affected by the earth quake in Haiti.Contrary to a report in the Saturday issue of Kaieteur News, the Guyana response to Haiti thus far has not exceeded $1B but it is fast climbing. Yesterday the Guyana National Haiti Relief Committee reported that the cash in hand figure stands at $213.6 Million and growing. As the committee awaits word on the way forward internationally this amount was realised through Government’s initial donation of $205.9 M (US $1m) as well as those realised from two telethons aired on NCN among other fund raising drives. As at Friday the other deposits totalled $4.5M while the cash and cheques delivered to the CDC amounts to $779,000. In addition the cash received from the NCN telethons amounts to $2.4 M. Guyana Committee for Haiti relief Chairperson Minister Priya Manickchand said the other figures announced remain pledges for now. The Minister said that as at yesterday the telethon drives are off unless there is a public demand for a continuation. As the local response continues she reported that the private sector is getting on board locally with pledges of items as well as cash. Yesterday, too, at the press briefing GT&T’s head of marketing, Wystan Robertson, announced that his company has made available its SMS platform to raise funds via text messaging that collects $100 per message and as at yesterday more than 8000 were received. In addition his company has offered its telecommunication equipment to facilitate local relief efforts. The GT&T number to text to make a donation is 6204488(GIVE) and the message is help Haiti. “We have pledges form Courts Guyana Limited, Banks DIH, DDL and Just Water as well as $6M in pharmaceuticals from the New GPC. The Pomeroon Oil Mill has also pledged $500,000 worth of cooking oil to be shipped to the country with other supplies when that becomes possible. Donations are also still being accepted at the CDC Thomas lands and NCN as well as at any Republic Bank. The Minister also stated yesterday that contrary to public opinion the committee has no issues with the Guyana Red Cross but noted that the efforts remain a national joint effort that includes the organization on the committee. On Friday Minister Priya Manickchand announced that the initial amount collected from donations via the first telethon on NCN was $8.74M. Also on Friday the Civil Defence Commission, Thomas Lands, Norman McLean, handed over $500,000 representing a contribution from the Guyana Gold Miners’ Association to GNCHR chairman Minister Priya Manickchand and pledged that several individual miners will make additional donations. “This is just our initial donation but miners such as Japarts, the Alphonsos, Omai and others will make donations shortly. The Guyana Pomeroon oil Mill has also pledged $500,000 worth of cooking oil.” The Minister also reiterated her call for Guyanese who might have families in Haiti to come forward with names to be entered into the database that will be posted on line when an official website is set up shortly. . She said, too, that any talk of granting refugee status will be addressed at a later date should the need arise but stressed that the aim is not to further demoralise the already displaced and hurting Haitians. Already some persons have presented perishables to donate to Haiti but because there is no clear word the local committee took a decision to donate the items to local institutions in need.
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