Disaster relief

Trailer loads of food, water and other materials for the Jehovah’s Witnesses relief program in the Virgin Islands often came with encouraging messages. This one came from Georgia.

After hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed the Virgin Islands early in September 2017, Jehovah’s Witnesses, like most residents in the islands, suffered terrible losses.

Roofs were blown away. Some homes were demolished and walls and windows and other property were obliterated by the strong winds and rain.

There was immediate response by Jehovah’s Witnesses from the mainland and neighboring islands, like Puerto Rico. Trailer loads with food, water, roofing materials and other items were donated to the brothers and sisters in St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and other neighboring islands.

Within days after the hurricanes, volunteers began pouring in from as far as California, Alaska, Hawaii, Ohio and other states. They paid their way and took vacation time to come and help their brothers and sisters.

Some came for two weeks and others are here for two to three months to help as carpenters, roofers, plumbers, sheet rock installers and masons.

“We practice Christian love,” said Willmar Acevedo, spokesperson for the Witnesses, “and this is one moment in life where we like to manifest it. The governing board of Jehovah‘s Witnesses made sure that food, shelter, clothing and medical assistance were provided in the initial stage of this disaster relief program.”

Donations from congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses all over the world help cover the expenses. There were more than 90 cases of damaged homes of Witnesses in St. Thomas and some 70 in St. Croix, and St. John suffered badly, but help arrived soon and is still arriving.

The relief program will continue until all of the homes are repaired. Jehovah’s Witnesses also are helping in Tortola, St. Martin, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean and in areas in the states affected earlier by Hurricane Harvey. Local brothers have lodged the volunteers of the relief program in their homes.