By William Yen
TAIPEI, Taiwan, (CNA) – Taiwanese sportswear company SHEICO Group donated 150 tablet computers to the Embassy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Thursday to help students access online education in areas affected by the La Soufrière volcanic eruption.
The donation of the 150 tablet computers took place at a ceremony at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei after a request by the SVG Embassy to the Global Disaster Relief Alliance, which was answered by the SHEICO Group.
Expressing thanks for the donation, SVG ambassador to Taiwan Andrea Bowman said that the students of the “Red Zone” of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines would be grateful for the donation.
Since April, at least 32 explosive eruptions have belched out of the volcano, blanketing SVG in ash and disrupting the lives and livelihood of over 20,000 Vincentians, according to Bowman. “Life came to a virtual halt as efforts towards evacuation and national adjustments had to be made in the face of this disaster.”
Hurricane Elsa also slashed its way through the northern part of SVG and created destructive mudflows called “lahars” that moved down the valleys, Bowman said. “This ‘Red Zone’ is the area of our country that will benefit today from the generosity of the SHEICO Group. The schooling of most of the students in the area has been severely disrupted for extended periods.”
Although online classes have been organized by SVG’s education ministry, student access has been hampered by not having the required technological devices, Bowman said.
SHEICO Group president and chief executive officer Min Shiue (薛敏誠) said he wanted to use the opportunity to thank SVG for its strong vocal support for Taiwan on the international stage.
After the ceremony, Bowman told CNA the Taiwanese response to help SVG was indicative of the two countries’ 40-year friendship.
“People tend to not want to speak about friendships in diplomacy, you know there is a saying that in diplomacy you tend to have interests and not friends. I say very boldly, what we have with Taiwan is a friendship,” Bowman said.
The latest donation of 150 tablet computers follows a pledge Saturday by Tunghai University’s Alumni Association New Taipei branch to donate NT$854,200 (US$30,723) to provide assistance to Vincentians.
The initial explosive eruption of the La Soufrière volcano displaced about 20,000 residents after it blanketed the country in a thick layer of ash on April 9.
As of now, there are currently around 107 displaced persons across seven shelters, according to Bowman.
Taiwan and the SVG established diplomatic relations on August 15, 1981, resulting in over 40 years of friendship that has been further cemented by ten visits to Taiwan by SVG prime minister Ralph Everard Gonsalves.