Hurricane Dorian created significant challenges in the Bahamas after slamming into its shores in September 2019. The American Red Cross has been on the ground since the very beginning to help people cope from the storm and has made significant investments in the Bahamas Red Cross to help them prepare for future disasters that may come their way.
Advancing the Technology
The world changed for families in the Bahamas again when the global COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the islands just six months after Dorian struck.
Families in remote island communities often lacked the resources for students to transition to virtual schooling or did not have the funds for every child to have a computer or table. On top of taking care of families and livelihoods, many parents were stressed to find resources for their kids. To help students cope, the Red Cross donated 100 tablets to families affected by Hurricane Dorian in hopes of making technology one less barrier for so many young kids trying to keep up or catch up with schooling.
One such student is 11-year-old Davontia. After growing up on the island of Abaco, Dorian ripped her home apart and forced her family to relocate to another island, where she started a new school.
“After the phone call…I cried, like I really cried because you’re taking some of the load off of my back so it was a relief knowing it was one less thing I had to buy,” said Davontia’s mother, Dennisha. Now Davontia proudly shows off her tablet in its pink protective case.
A few miles away, in 8 Mile Rock, Krystal is a mother of two and expecting her third child soon. Dorian destroyed her home and belongings, so she settled here as she awaits her new baby.
She received a tablet for her son to help with online schooling and appreciates all the features of the device. The help reminds her of all the things she’s grateful to have instead of all the things she’s lost. “I really, really appreciate the Red Cross because sometimes in certain situations you don’t have any help at all, but with the Red Cross they told me they were going to help and they came through.”
Making a Splash with Lifeguarding Classes
The Bahamas is an island nation surrounded by water, yet there’s not an abundance of lifeguarding or water safety training classes.
The American Red Cross funded all the gear, equipment and logistics for a new lifeguard certification course that was launched and added to the Bahamas Red Cross repertoire of classes including CPR and First Aid. Students learned the same curriculum as classes offered by the American Red Cross in the U.S. The first set of students learned to be lifeguard trainers, so they can teach classes throughout the islands in future.
The course takes students into the classroom, to the pool and the beach for rescue drills and life-saving skill training and will be a resource for individuals, corporations, hospitality and tourism professionals and provides employment for students looking to earn a living as a certified lifeguard.
Restoring Communications Capabilities
Communications capabilities are often knocked out and inter-island messaging can be difficult and moving supplies to areas in need can be hazardous after a storm does major damage to an island’s infrastructure. The American Red Cross has supplied satellite phones, flatbed trucks, emergency kits, forklifts and more to aid in the immediate response of future storms and other emergencies such as the COVID-19 crisis.
American Red Cross Response
Thanks to the incredible generosity of the American public, the Red Cross has been able to directly support the people whose lives were most deeply disrupted by Dorian. Nearly two years later, the American Red Cross has never stopped working in the Bahamas. Donations to the Red Cross allowed us to put cash right back into the hands of local people so they could choose exactly what they needed for themselves. We gave out emergency supplies, food and clean water to thousands of families and are helping with long term recovery by providing cash grants to repair homes and businesses. Together with partners, the Red Cross is helping to be the bridge to comfort and hope following a life-changing disaster.