“I just want the best for my kids,” Pamela said as she returned home to the island of Abaco. Standing in what used to be her front yard, shards of roofing littered the ground and overturned boats surrounded her on the overcast day.
It was one of the many challenges Pamela faced returning home: How would her family find joy and motivation when so much had been lost?
As Red Cross relief workers unloaded kitchen supplies, water, food and clean-up items from the back of a truck to her doorstep, they also paused to listen.
“My mother suffered a stroke after the storm; she couldn’t bear the pressure of all we went through. The rising water, the looters, it was too much,” she recalled. “We swam out the roof of our house and made it to a clinic by way of a floating school bus.”
Pamela was in need of the basics to carry on everyday tasks of life: pots and pans to make meals, utensils to eat with, buckets and soap to clean. But she also needed a sign that would tell her things could get better during what had become an overwhelming situation.
Helping Neighbors by Volunteering with the Red Cross
Weeks after she received aid, Pamela answered a call from her friend Christine. “We’re looking for volunteers to help this week, and I was wondering if you’d be interested?” Christine, a long-time Bahamas Red Cross volunteer, was drawing on her trusted community to make it possible for neighbors to receive help.
Pamela soon realized that Christine’s offer could also be one that may also bring her reassurance, right in her own backyard.
“As a single mother of three kids, our house is still unlivable. But I know one thing: I am good at keeping things going. I’m used to managing projects at work, so mark my words: If you give me a task, I’ll find a way to make it happen.”
It’s that type of mindset that the Red Cross depends on to deliver aid in challenging conditions, like Abaco, where power and electricity still have not been fully restored.
At 9 o’clock sharp the next morning, Pamela arrived at the aid distribution site with a handful of her girlfriends, who also decided to lend a hand. They’re now among dozens of Bahamas Red Cross volunteers who continue to show up daily and make a difference, despite all of their lives having been turned upside down last fall.
As Pamela worked the relief station, she saw neighbors she hadn’t connected with in months. Some of their eyes filled with tears as they realized that aid was being delivered on-the-spot, and that a familiar face like Pamela’s was the comforting source.
That comfort extended straight to Pamela, too, who still gives her time on Abaco to help her own community recover.
“When I can see people show up and smile, that’s what lights me up. They’re in such low spirits before coming here. But when they leave with that smile, that’s everything to me.”
American Red Cross’s role in the Bahamas
The American Red Cross deployed more than 40 relief workers to assist the Bahamas Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Teams distributed emergency shelter kits, food, water and millions of dollars in cash to families in need. Thanks to generous donors, the American Red Cross is still in the Bahamas, helping communities recover. Find more information about our work in at redcross.org/dorian.