“And a child will lead them…” Isiah 11:6
John Christopher of “Team Relief” out of Penville is not a child.
In fact, he’s 29 years old but he’s definitely leading.
Christopher is a teacher at the Vieille Case Primary School and he started the group, Team Relief, to assist the community of Coulibistrie and its environs after the ravages of Erika.
“We got together just last week. We were just chilling on the block. We always together hanging out, cooking food and we decided, boy, you know what, instead of just staying in Penville and cooking food among ourselves, let’s go out instead. We, as a group, are Dominicans – all of us – and we decided to put our hands together and come together as a people to support our people,” he said in explaining how the group came into existence.
The group’s motto is: Help Us to Help Them! They have been soliciting support from individuals, companies and organizations in Penville and on Saturday, September 5, 2015, they descended upon Coulibistrie to bring relief to those afflicted and affected by the events of Thursday, August 27 when TS Erika hit Dominica.
“Today, we did home-to-home visits. We brought more than 50 roast breadfruit, codfish, water, clothes, food hampers, a lot of stuff, and we just had a lot of fun interacting with the people, at least making them laugh because it’s a time of sorrow. We’re a group of happy people. We also assisted some people with shoveling dirt out of their houses,” he noted.
Christopher singled out a friend of his by the name of Smith from Portsmouth and a Rounders group in their village for special mention.
“Smith gave a lot of assistance. One day he spent about $500 with us buying foodstuff and items for school, you name it, whatever you want in the home and the Penville Sixers donated about $800 and we took that to buy food hampers,” he noted. “We need to applaud our people when they come out to help. I’m very thankful to all the people who assisted us to assist the victims in the north of the island; those who helped us to help them.”
“Team Relief” consists of 43 members and they were 20-plus strong in Coulibistrie, ranging in age from 15 to 42; the majority were young men.
“Everybody in the group is somewhat involved in community life – schoolchildren, housewives, teachers, counsellors, doctors, even ‘paros’ because the ‘paros’ climb the breadfruit tree for us, so thank you ‘paros,'” he noted.
The cost of transportation to and from Penville came from their own pockets and Christopher said it can be costly so, for now, they will focus on the areas from Coulibistrie northwards.
He had this message for other young people.
“The Government cannot do it along. Skerrit can’t do it alone. Lennox can’t do it alone. It takes a collective effort, a togetherness and let’s build together,” he said.
Ericson Robinson, Chairman of the Coulibistrie Village Council, thanked the group on behalf of the community.
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to “Team Relief” from Penville for demonstrating that tremendous effort in coming out to support us in rebuilding our community. We need all hands on deck and when young people come out and step up to the plate and show that they really mean business, I want to commend you for that. You have come from far and the energy that you have demonstrated today really goes a long way. It’s what propels us. You gave us that boost and when young people step up, the others follow and I really feel grateful. Continue to motivate your team and whatever activities that you have, I will support because what you all have brought to Coulibistrie is tremendous,” he remarked.
Christopher promised that the presence of “Team Relief” will be felt in the weeks to come as they will be back to assist in any way that they can.
“Dominica is one land, one flag, one people,” he said.