SPECIAL REPORTS

Sister to Sister

A Richmond, Va. women's service organization helps women in Haiti

Capvva women pose with JTJ Haiti field coordinator James Dorzil after the delivery of survival packs compiled by a women's service organization in Richmond, Va., the James River Valley Chapter of The Links, Inc. ©  2012

A member of Capvva poses with her survival kit. Inside was lotion, toothpaste and other women's hygiene items. © James Dorzil  2012

The James River Valley Chapter of The Links, Inc, an International not-for-profit African American Women’s organization, has compassionately linked together to create Women Survival Kits for the women of a temporary shelter camp in Haiti. The shelter camp, named Capvva, is composed entirely of people who lost homes—along with family members and their livelihoods—during the tragic earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in January 2010. Those that live in Capvva live in tents provided by relief agencies after the earthquake. Many other villages of victims similarly formed after the earthquake.

The James River Valley Chapter of The Links connected with Christian compassion organization Join the Journey, which works in that shelter camp, to deliver the supplies to those in need.

“One thing we pride ourselves on is hearing the need of people,” said Jean Cunningham, chair of the International Trends and Services Committee for the Links James River Valley Chapter. “When we hear that someone is in need, we try our best to respond accordingly”

The Links Incorporated is a not-for-profit, international civic organization. Founded in 1946, it is one of the oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. There are over 274 chapters located in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

The survival kit concept was established at the international level and is put together by a number of Links chapters to help Haiti and other poor people throughout the world. The James River Valley Chapter has been affiliated with Haiti for 7 years, contributing to the impoverished there in a multitude of ways. During the past 7 years, the James River Valley Chapter has provided medical supplies for local physician Dr. Lerla Joseph’s medical missions. After the 2010 devastating earthquake, the chapter sent supplies, tents and other needed goods with Joseph to Haiti.

This year the James River Valley Chapter has been collecting basic hygiene goods such as sanitary napkins, panties, lotions, tooth brushes and toothpaste and other feminine travel size products to package in gallon-size plastic bags to distribute to the women of Capvva. Those survival kits were sent in March with Joseph on another medical-focused trip she was leading.

Alongside Join the Journey, The James River Valley Chapter of The Link, Incorporated sought to improve the lives of Capvva women by providing the much-needed day-to-day personal items.

In addition to the Women’s Survival Kits for Haiti and Mama Kits for Africa, The Links, Incorporated also participates in voter registration, Habitat of Humanity, and support of Susan Komen breast cancer initiatives. Each chapter has other committees or facets as well as the International Trends facet: the Arts, Services to Youth, Health and Human Services, National Trends and Services. The chapters participate in and work with many other public service projects.

Join the Journey is continuing to work in Capvva to help the people there with urgent needs and eventual relocation out of the shelter camp.

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You can find out more information by visiting www.linksinc.org or to visit the James River Valley Chapter at www.jamesrivervalleylinksinc.org to find out more about the individual chapter. Please check out JTJ's Global Action section for ways you can get involved in similar ways.