Hugh Riley of the Caribbean Tourism Organization greeted all those in attendance in lower Manhattan for Revival for the Caribbean: Rejuvenation, a gathering to kick-off Caribbean Week as well as spiritually launching it.
“What does it mean to be Caribbean?” Riley asked. “We are the people who declared 2018 The Year of Rejuvenation, to signal to the world that after the devastation of the 2017 hurricane season we intend to rebuild, recover, rejuvenate and revive.”
The late afternoon June 3 assembly was particularly aimed at refreshing spirits after the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Christine Noel-Horsford of the Grenada Tourism Authority gave a situation overview. Sept. 6, last year, Hurricane Irma first made landfall on the northeast Caribbean islands. Antigua, Anguilla, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Barthelemy, St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Turks and Caicos and the US Virgin Islands were affected. Barbuda was evacuated, completely devastated.
Days later, Hurricane Maria, caused catastrophic damage in the region. Sept.19, Maria made landfall in Dominica — the worst natural disaster on record there. On Sept. 20, the hurricane hit Puerto Rico, continuing to suffer from extensive damage. Antigua, US Virgin Islands and Guadeloupe still strive toward recovery.
With the destruction of roads, bridges, and public utilities, needless to say, the economy in most of these countries came to a halt.
By way of this as a backdrop, the intent of Revival for the Caribbean “Rejuvenation” was to raise the spirits of all attendees with hope.
For the past twelve years, Caribbean Week New York (celebrated for 40 years) has been scheduled to coincide with Caribbean-American Heritage Month.
The U.S. House of Representatives adopted this heritage month commemoration in 2005 to recognize the Caribbean peoples’ contribution in the history and culture of the United States. Since then, in June the plethora of Caribbean Week events complements the month-long tribute.
Hugh Riley said, “In the best of Caribbean traditions, a revival begins with giving thanks. Despite everything else, we give thanks. We are Caribbean!”
Native of Trinidad & Tobago Wendy Lewis, pastor of Regenerating Lives Ministries in Georgia served as the host and MC for the afternoon. A talented vocalist, in her own right, she comes to gospel after a career in song with great Calypso singers and as a cabaret artist. Pastor Lewis changed her life and music and ministers at homeless shelters, drub rehab centers, and nursing homes.
Messages of hope, ecumenicalism, thanksgiving and inspirational readings were offered by Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Episcopal faith leaders in the multi-cultural and religious vein that make up the Caribbean,
Gospel performances by Minister Janice Charles (Grenada) Kingdom Life Ministries Int’l; Brooklyn Faith SDA Church singers; and Min. Wayne Johnson (T&T) and Min. Cora Moore Williamson (Guyana) from Brooklyn for Jesus SDA moved attendees.
On the secular end, Carolyn Punter and Friends and the folkloric Braata Folk Group entertained the audience.
Pastor Lewis sang an offertory performance to benefit the CTO relief effort and closed the afternoon with a recessional song.