Continuing a long-established tradition of Freemasons funding disaster relief efforts, the MCF has awarded a total of £280,000 over Continuing a long-established tradition of Freemasons funding disaster relief efforts, the MCF has awarded a total of £280,000 over the last two years to support people affected by the Sri Lankan floods, the famine in East Africa and hurricanes in Haiti and the Caribbean
Following the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala in June, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) provided a further £25,000 to help some of the thousands of families evacuated from their homes. The grant is helping to fund three evacuation centres in Guatemala that provide vital services, such as water-purifying filters, hygiene kits and highly nutritious meals for pregnant women and children affected by the eruption.
With many English and Welsh Freemasons living around the world in the Districts, members of the masonic community have also been affected by these disasters. David, a Cheshire Freemason, and his wife, Christine, lived on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin for 12 years and ran a successful business. Then Hurricane Irma hit, destroying their home and livelihood.
Having survived the hurricane and its aftermath, David and Christine were evacuated to the UK. But with no home and no access to any of their savings, they were forced to join the homeless register and battle to access state support. Emergency accommodation was provided, but they were moved every few days. With no provision for food or transport, they began to run up debts on their credit card.
‘It was a very stressful time,’ David says. ‘We were constantly on the move and not getting much sleep. The whole experience felt degrading and demeaning.’
David’s friend – also a member of his lodge in Cheshire – suggested that the couple contact the MCF. After an initial enquiry, an emergency grant of £500 was quickly approved to cover their immediate expenses.
The MCF then approved another grant to cover the costs of a deposit and six months’ rent. Now, with the help of family and neighbours, David and Christine are slowly rebuilding their lives.
‘I didn’t expect to have to start again at my age, but it’s an adventure! We are so grateful for the help we have received; there are good people behind us, and we hope to be in a position very soon where we can help ourselves.’