(Eleuthera, The Bahamas – 10.23.19) When Hurricane Dorian barreled through the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, it left a trail of destruction and devastation in its wake. Tragically, many lives were lost and though thousands escaped death, most survivors lost their homes, businesses, and all their material possessions.
In response, One Eleuthera Foundation and its partners issued a public appeal for support to assist evacuees with relocating and reestablishing their lives. The response was resounding as hundreds answered, and continue to answer the call to render aid. Along with our partners and volunteers, we have been working tirelessly to provide the essentials including food, clothing, health care, housing, employment, counselling support and education. It is important to note that all children who came through our relief program have been assisted with text books and school related expenses.
Housing has been one of the bigger initiatives undertaken. To date, we have been able to provide both temporary and long-term housing for over 200 displaced evacuees. Camp Symonette in James Cistern and The Retreat at CTI continue to serve as temporary housing facilities. The goal is to help people transition to full-time housing in the local community. We have successfully found permanent housing for over two dozen evacuees. However, the demand for relocation still exceeds our current capability.
Along with housing security, OEF and its partners have undertaken the task of providing meals. Our food program is thoughtfully executed to maintain a dignified atmosphere for evacuees who are served professionally prepared meals daily, regardless of their placement throughout the island.
The Foundation has not overlooked the importance of mental and emotional support and has provided counselling services to over 350 persons. Counseling services are not limited to evacuees but extends to schools and local residents of Eleuthera. OEF realizes that this needs to be a continuing exercise in order to be effective. We are relying on continued support to provide people with access to the professional help they need to deal with the wide range of effects that exists.
OEF is committed to playing a significant role in rebuilding the lives of the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama as they resettle in Eleuthera or assist them in moving back to their home island. We are prioritizing job placement for the relocated where possible. We have employed a number of evacuees in both part-time and full-time positions at OEF and The Center for Training and Innovation. In the instance of less skilled individuals, we are prepared to offer training in areas relative to building and repair that will equip them to participate in the rebuilding of their home island, or to find similar work elsewhere. Most recently, our training program has expanded to an additional facility on Harbour Island that will be able to conveniently accommodate evacuees and residents in the North.
We would not be able to accomplish any of this without the enthusiastic response of our partners, donors and the local community who rallied immediately and contributed generously, positioning us to assist hundreds of evacuees who made their way to Eleuthera. We have committed to offering support, stability and opportunity to our displaced countrymen and women as they resettle and begin new lives.
For more information on how to support OEF’s ongoing Hurricane Dorian Relief efforts, go to www.oneeleuthera.org/relief or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For those living in the U.S., go to www.oefus.org or email email@example.com