BY By Prem Calvin Prashad
(TIMES LEDGER).-The recently formed group West Indians Serving Humanity has bold plans to aid underprivileged children through tapping the large West Indian community in Queens. I spoke with WISH group members Safraz Deen and Deven Dindiyal on their experiences, aspirations for their group and the charitable spirit they have discovered in borough residents.
Many members of WISH grew up in poverty, a powerful motivation behind their current efforts to improve the lives of children living in poor areas of the West Indies. Dindiyal, who grew up in Cornelia Ida, Guyana, noted that “my family was very poor, at times my parents would beg the neighbors for milk to feed me as a child while they starved themselves. We did not have government resources to tap into for clothing, food or any main necessities of daily life.”
WISH currently serves Guyana and Trinidad, though there are plans to network with other aid groups and expand to other countries this year. This may even include locations outside the West Indies. Dindiyal noted that refugee children caught in the current Syrian civil war are also in dire need of aid.
The group gathers clothing, books and toys and inspects the items for quality. Toys must be in packaging, though books may be lightly used. This quality inspection prevents the shipping of useless items in the otherwise limited space available, as the items are packed into bulk shipping barrels.
Monetary donations made to WISH covers the cost of shipping. WISH members then meet the shipment in the destination country and ensure it is distributed to those who need it most. Once the shipment arrives, it is distributed by that group member to all children in the community, regardless of race, religion or gender.
A critical aspect of WISH’s efforts is ensuring that borough residents are aware of how to donate and have the opportunity to give their donated items directly to WISH. As Deen observed, the vast majority of donations to WISH are from individuals who live here in Queens and are otherwise unaware of how they can have their contributions reach needy families in the West Indies.
In June, WISH hosted the Guyana Exposition at Queens College. Miss Guyana World 2012, Arti Cameron, was present at the event and helped to promote the group’s charitable efforts. Deen noted that due to this successful event, the group had received several requests to pick up bags of clothing and boxes of young adult books from those who had attended the expo.
Plans for WISH include a toy drive in the fall. Last year’s toy drive had the donations go to Toys for Tots, but plans for this year’s drive will instead focus on having the toys shipped to Guyana in time for Christmas.
To arrange a pickup of charitable goods, one may contact WISH at 347-699-3510 or via e-mail at [email protected] For updates on the group’s progress, visit facebook.com/thewishgroup.