Dec 3, 2020

From farming to education to marine life, Abaco is on the mend

From Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization
From Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization

The past 15 months have been rough for the folks on Abaco Island in the Bahamas. When I traveled there in January, new signs of life were emerging—rebuilt homes, new job prospects, and reinvigorated farmers tending to their businesses. Then COVID-19 forced a nationwide shutdown, exacerbating the challenges of daily life, much less rebuilding.

Throughout these challenging times, however, both local and international organizations have worked to make good on their commitments to the people and natural habitat of Abaco and its marine communities. As in most parts of the world, outdoor work is safer than indoor, and thanks to your generosity we have recently made grants from the Hurricane Dorian Relief and Recovery Fund to three unique organizations:

  • World Central Kitchen is probably a familiar name at this point. The globally recognized nonprofit founded by Chef Jose Andres has been everywhere—from Nepal to Japan, California to Guatemala—feeding those in need. What you might not know is that in addition to being an emergency response meal-providing juggernaut, WCK also has long-term Food Producer Networks, one of which is in Abaco. They’re supporting the farmers, fishers, and small food-related businesses of Abaco with direct grants to help them rebuild their operations and get back to their pre-Dorian production levels and beyond. They are working with the grantees, chefs, restaurants, food sellers, community organizations, and the Bahamian Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to build a stronger and more sustainable food economy in times of calm, and a more resilient food system in preparation for the next disaster.
  • The Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization is hard at work keeping some of the world’s most prolific marine environments alive. The bottlenose dolphins are one of many marine mammals that were threatened by Dorian’s wrath and the subsequent oil spill. Because of donors like you, the 30-year old organization recently acquired a new research vessel to monitor the health impacts of the storm and document the benefits of reduced marine noise. This will help increase the resilience of the Sea of Abaco’s bottlenose dolphins, contributing to population growth in the wider Abaco region. Establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) is one of the greatest defenses against climate change and will boost the health of the entire aquatic ecosystem so these beautiful species can swim freely for years to come.
  • All Hands and Hearts (AHAH), a long-time GlobalGiving partner, is finally back in action after being forced to evacuate Abaco earlier this year due to COVID-19. After months of painstaking waiting, the guidelines for operating in the field were developed and AHAH could finally re-establish its base in Marsh Harbor and welcome its first round of volunteers in September. In October, Central Abaco Primary (the largest elementary school on the island) reopened to students and teachers in a fully mucked, gutted, cleaned, and refurbished facility thanks to the relentless efforts of team lead Chloe Forman, the AHAH staff, and their determined volunteers.

Our partners are amazing!

Thank you for generously supporting community-led relief efforts that assist these incredible projects and countless other partners in The Bahamas and beyond. In the upcoming months, we'll continue reporting on how your donations are providing continued investment in the rebuilding of livelihoods in The Bahamas.

With Gratitude,
Donna & the GlobalGiving Team

From Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization
From Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization
Nov 19, 2020

Recovery work continues

La Marana gathers leaders in Carolina, Puerto Rico
La Marana gathers leaders in Carolina, Puerto Rico

For the past few months, our new partner Protectores de Cuencas in Puerto Rico has been hard at work planting trees to restore land in the Guanica State Forest, especially coastal areas that are prone to erosion and areas burned in wildfires. They've been able to purchase a water truck and pickup trucks so that they can water, weed, and maintain more than 13 acres of reforested land. These tools are essential, as new trees need to be watered as many as 17 times per month!

Meanwhile, in the Houston, TX area, another new partner, Bayou City Waterkeeper, has used their donations to work with local government and community members to protect 269 acres of wetlands, convene decisionmakers, hold community meetings, and conduct training. By protecting wetlands, communities will be less vulnerable to flooding like what was seen in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Our long-time partners continue their important work, as well. For example:

  • La Maraña invited community leaders in Carolina, in northeast Puerto Rico, to imagine what a just recovery would look like. They also openedthree water stations and a community well in eastern Puerto Rico so that access to clean water is available even if weathering future storms.
  • The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands has funded the removal of 260 cubic yards of hurricane debris from the shorelines and roadways of Coral Bay on St. John to date. That’s the equivalent of more than seven school buses! They’ve also worked with a local university to recycle glass into sandbags, to offer flood protection to residents and businesses.
  • The St. John Long-Term Recovery Group has experienced setbacks in their work rebuilding homes destroyed by the hurricanes since COVID-19 reached the island. They had to pause home reconstruction for vulnerable senior residents and experienced delays in construction permits and supply shipments due to COVID-19 precautions. Over the summer, they began to resume work, with socially distancing, portable hand washing stations, and masks for construction crew members.
  • For months, Doorways of NWFL had to close their Community Resource Center in Panama City, FL due to COVID-19, but they fielded thousands of calls for assistance. Last month, they reopened the center with safety protocols in place and delivered food to homebound and high-risk residents with the help of volunteers.

Whether reforesting land, protecting wetlands, envisioning future recovery, giving clean water access, removing debris, offering flood protection, or delivering food, these organizations are doing essential work. Thank you for your generous support to the Island Spirit Fund that helps it all happen.

Protectores de Cuenca cares for young trees
Protectores de Cuenca cares for young trees
Nov 18, 2020

What Tahera wants you to know about the road to recovery in Pakistan

Photo courtesy of Imkaan
Photo courtesy of Imkaan

While I could share countless statistics about how your donation is making a difference for communities across South Asia, I thought I’d share some insights from someone on the grounds: Imkaan Welfare Organization Director Tahera Hasan. Here’s what she had to say about overcoming the challenges brought on by this year’s devastating monsoon season.

Q: What do you wish more people knew about how your community was impacted by the floods across South Asia?

A: The community we work with is one of the largest informal settlements in Karachi, with a population of approximately 800,000. The majority of residents are of Bengali ethnicity and are therefore stateless. The community is mostly on land near the sea, and the homes are makeshift without any quality construction. The homes are lower than the level of the [road]lanes, which even in regular rainfalls causes damage as they become filled with water. The flooding this August due to its intensity left no home unaffected. There was waist-high water inside people’s homes with no place to sit, eat, or sleep. The aftermath of the rain left the community with diseases, damaged [road] lanes, and a lot of homes in need of rebuilding. 

Q: How have the funds you received from the GlobalGiving South Asia Flood Relief Fund made a difference for your community?

A: We run several projects in the community, but the maternity facility, health facility, and solid waste management facility suffered the most substantial impacts during the floods. The maternity facility, which is the only one in the community, was inundated with cases. Our staff was present 24 hours at the facility in these challenging circumstances and dealt with emergency cases effectively. There was an increase in skin infections, respiratory diseases, and gastroenteritis cases after the flooding.

GlobalGiving's South Asia Flood Relief Fund has really helped us deal with the increased number of patients that have been coming to our facilities, as the same has resulted in an increased need for medication and support. The fund has also assisted our solid waste management program, which has had to work at twice its strength to deal with the state of the community post-flooding.

Q: What are the greatest unmet, long-term needs in your community?

A: Being an underprivileged community brings challenges for all services to meet basic community needs. The added circumstance of being stateless deprives the community of any state attention or relief. The major unmet needs of the community range between health, education, recreation, housing, and water and sanitation. Because of the high levels of statelessness within the community, members cannot access government health facilities and children cannot go to school. 

There is general hopelessness due to the lack of a resolution to their issues. COVID-19 has been a major eye-opener of the vulnerability of the community after not being able to receive part of any government relief program. Even most NGOs had the prerequisite of an identity card to get relief. 

Q: What about your local community’s response to the floods makes you most proud?

A: The local community deals with the challenges of rain every year with an impact on their existence. People support and help each other—there was not one home where everyone around was not helping. It is this unity that strengthens a community. 

Q: Real disaster recovery is a long and difficult process. What inspires you to keep at it?

A: I think the one thing that keeps anyone going in disaster situations is the desire to see things change for the better and the need to contribute towards the same. I have worked in several disaster situations where immediate needs are addressed as part of relief work. However, it’s the rebuilding that takes time and long-term commitment. That can come for communities working for their betterment with assistance from organizations that work in those areas.

In my view, the fact that this particular community is deprived of identity despite there being a legal framework, purely because of non-implementation, is a disaster that has impacted every facet of their lives. We at Imkaan are committed to working towards advocating for their basic rights.

The generosity of donors like you make Tahera’s commitment to long-term recovery a reality for communities in Karachi. We are incredibly grateful for your continued support. Keep an eye out for more stories of how your donations are being put to work across South Asia in the coming months. 

With Gratitude, 

Sami A + the GlobalGiving Team

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