Although the barge’s official name is the Carribean Pride, Puerto Ricans who’ve loaded it with 6 million pounds of food and medicine, plus generators and tarps are calling it the “Barge of Hope.”
When the powerful earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, Puerto Rico responded with an outpouring of sympathy and aid, collecting so many relief supplies that shipping such a vast amount presented a formidable problem. Haiti’s airport was severely congested and its seaport heavily damaged.
The solution? A massive barge, 250 feet long and 80 feet wide (76 meters by 24 meters) was made available by Pan American Grain, one of the largest food-processing companies in the Caribbean.
Puerto Rican authorities say that when it arrives in Haiti, it will be the largest single shipment of aid to arrive so far.
“This has been very emotional for Puerto Rico,” said Jose Gonzalez Freyre, Pan American Grain’s president. “Everyone is following the Barge of Hope on its trip.”
Puerto Rico has a culture of helping people in need. The country set up collection points for Haiti relief donations at 78 government centers.
After the supplies were delivered to the port, the truckers, stevedores and other dock workers all volunteered their time.
Pan American Grain donated food along with $150,000 in transportation costs for the barge. “All private donations and private enterprise,” he said.
Puerto Ricans’ generosity has been so overwhelming, however, that an additional 1,500 pallets of relief supplies remain on a pier in San Juan, according to Cable Network News. Freyre said he hoped that another donor would pick up transportation costs for a second shipment.
The Barge of Hope is due to arrive off Port au Prince by today and tie up at a private dock.
If necessary, the barge can be beached because it draws only six feet of water, which would allow for a quicker unload and delivery of the supplies for needy people.
(Originally published in America.gov)