Indian Guyanese and Trini New Yorkers have responded to the needs of their compatriots during this Covid Pandemic. Richmond Hill, Flatbush, Queens Village, Jamaica, and other areas where Guyanese and Trini communities are established, seem to have been hit very hard by the pandemic. Many Guyanese and Trini New Yorkers have lost their jobs and a lot of them who owned small businesses were forced to close. The increase in need for Guyanese New Yorkers, and perhaps those in Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, Washington, etc. shows the damage that’s been done by the pandemic in Guyanese American communities.
Guyanese and Trinis have been severely affected by the pandemic in a variety of ways. A drive thru Guyanese neighborhoods reveal too many shuttered shops. Many Guyanese and Trinis are struggling through job losses and wages cut. Also, Covid infection rates are higher in Guyanese and other migrant neighborhoods. Guyanese and Trini or Indo-Caribbean communities in Queens, Brooklyn, and elsewhere have been in desperate need of food and other forms of assistance. These neighborhoods have seen many struggles, including a heightened need for food, masks, five-pack face shields, hand sanitizers, and personal protective equipment as COVID-19 cases spiked. Their compatriots have not disappointed them. Generous Indo-Caribbean Americans and Guyanese food pantry volunteers have responded to their needs in Queens in particular. Some assist with rental money and or rent forgiveness. And several food pantries, staffed by Guyanese, have been doling out food to alleviate hunger. Mandirs, churches, and Masjids have also become centers for food distribution, Covid testing, and vaccination. Food pantries and food distribution sites helped Guyanese, Trinis, and non-Guyanese in Greater Richmond Hill to access food and protective equipment at critical times. Every week, sometimes twice a week, they gave out hampers and or equipment to protect against Covid. They not only help Guyanese but members of other ethnic groups as well. And Mandirs not only have been helping Hindus, but also followers of other faiths.
The Guyanese or Indo-Caribbean neighborhoods leadership has responded positively to help their compatriots. Some mandirs handed out prepared meals and food boxes. Many individuals and organizations have been behind the effort to help the community. They all deserve public credit. Among those who really stood out in organizing assistance for the Richmond Hill area are Vishnu Mahadeo of Richmond Hill Development Incorp, Balram Rambrich of Arya Samaj USA, Pt. Lakhram Ramdat Maharaj of Tulsi Mandir. Rambrich procure equipment that is shared with other organizations and distributed to the public. Mahadeo and Pandit Lakeram Maharaj have been able to procure food and equipment and without fail have shared same with the public. Mahadeo has been distributing food, masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and shields, and at times hot meals several times a every week while Pt. Lakeram doles out his handouts on Saturday mornings. In addition, to material assistance, Mahadeo has been able to lobby for and procure a mobile testing van that is posted almost permanently in Richmond Hill. He has been fetching seniors and bringing them for testing. He also has arranged vaccine appointments for seniors and arranging transport for those in need in order they become vaccinated. I would like to recommend Vishnu Mahadeo for national honors by the Guyana government for his extraordinary efforts to help Guyanese New Yorkers. No one has done more than him to help Guyanese Americans to combat the Covid or to recover from infection.
Access to healthy nutrition and protective equipment are important to overall physical and mental health and well-being. And the public, Guyanese, Trinis, and other non-Guyanese, are most grateful for the assistance provided by volunteers provided to meet the challenges.
Increasing numbers of Guyanese and other Indo-Caribbeans are being tested and vaccinated. Testing is free and multiple tests are allowed without any limit. Lives are being saved through regular testing and vaccination. Anyone and everyone who wants a vaccine gets it. No one is being turned away. An appointment is hardly needed now to get the vaccine. Walk ins are allowed. There are few who have been resisting the vaccine. And the vaccine has been working.
Guyanese, Trini and other Americans are urged to take the vaccine and to get regular testing, and take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and others.