Saturday, 27 February 2021

Oxfordshire Freemasons

HUNDREDS of families in Nicaragua and Honduras, who have had their lives devastated by two major hurricanes, will be receiving emergency supplies thanks to a grant of £30,000 from Oxfordshire Freemasons to Plan International UK.

Hurricane Eta made landfall on Nicaragua’s northern coast as a category four hurricane in early November, bringing catastrophic rains and winds of 140 mph, blowing off roofs and knocking down trees.

Hurricane Iota, the strongest Atlantic hurricane of the year, then caused widespread devastation in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador just two weeks later.

Iota, also a category four hurricane, made landfall just two weeks after Hurricane Eta had left 4.2 million people in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

The storm hit almost exactly the same stretch of coast that had already been devastated.

In Honduras alone, more than half a million families have been affected and thousands have seen their homes damaged or destroyed by the winds, rain and subsequent floods.

Schools and health centres have borne the brunt of the storms and roads and power lines have been destroyed, which creates even greater challenges for response teams and communities. Children and families are in need of emergency supplies to help them in this critical period, especially given the additional risks of transmission of covid-19 in crowded temporary shelters.

The money from the Freemasons is enough to provide 553 families in Nicaragua with water and sanitation kits containing water, soap, sanitiser, toothbrushes, toothpaste and insect repellent, and 331 families in Honduras with shelter kits containing mats, blankets, torches and mosquito nets.

Freemasons from Oxfordshire have contributed to the grant that comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Meanwhile, the pantomime at the Oxford Playhouse Theatre, hosted annually by the Oxfordshire Freemasons, was cancelled.

The Freemasons would normally provide the whole matinée performance of 600 seats for children with physical disabilities, learning difficulties, or who are disadvantaged. Instead they gave away 600 goody bags to the organisations that cater for the children.

Each goody bag contained one of these teddies, a Santa hat and chocolate buttons from the Barry Callebaut chocolate factory in Banbury.

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