Hurricane Dorian was the most intense tropical cyclone on record to hit the Bahamas. As the long recovery continues, community-led efforts are laying a strong foundation for the islands’ future.
When Category 5 Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas in 2019, it left an unprecedented path of destruction in the Caribbean country. Since then, donors have fueled the vital recovery work through GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Dorian Relief and Recovery Fund.
GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partners are still working to ensure that as the Bahamas builds back, it builds back stronger and involves everyone in the community. See how their responses are offering glimmers of hope for the country’s future.
It is impossible to imagine losing your home with all of your life’s valuables in it. Sadly, Hurricane Dorian made 29,000 people face that reality. Since then, community-led nonprofits, like St. Bernard Project (SBP), have been working diligently to help folks rebuild their houses and restore some stability in their lives. Material shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have made that more difficult. But our nonprofit partners and their communities are ensuring that families once again have a safe place to call home.
“I started to become depressed over what had happened. For a while, it looked as if things were never getting back to normal… Now that my home is being repaired by SBP, I want to thank SBP for bringing smiles and joy back within my family. Being home with my family means the world to me.”
Families across the Bahamas, especially in North Abaco, have overcome a lot in the past three years. This has made it hard to ensure children are getting the nourishing foods they need to grow and thrive. Organizations like Abaco Strong know this. After Hurricane Dorian, their teams spearheaded school feeding programs that guarantee a healthy meal each day for children and allow them to focus on school. As Martha Fleury, of Abaco Strong said:
“Many families are still struggling to put food on the table due to the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian and a global pandemic in a tourist-driven economy.”
Abaco Strong’s feeding programs complement the work of Lend a Hand Bahamas, a nonprofit founded to bring more activities, opportunities, and resources to socio-economically disadvantaged areas of the Bahamas. Since the storm, they have been distributing food in communities, offering training programs for adults, and craft activities for youth. As Lend a Hand Bahamas knows, recovery looks different for each person.
Did you know that healthy coral reefs can absorb up to 97% of a wave’s energy, buffering coastal communities from storms, flooding, and erosion? Our partners at the Perry Institute understand this and the need to protect the natural landscape of the Bahamas. Perry Institute staff continue to conduct coral health surveys in areas that were in Hurricane Dorian’s path. This is vital to support a healthy coral system, promote eco-tourism, and reduce the impacts of future storms.
Restoring the Bahamas’ environment is as important onshore as it is offshore—and getting the community involved is what makes an initiative sustainable. That’s why Friends of the Environment has led extensive beach cleanups and education activities for Bahamian youth. Almost 3.5 years after Dorian, Friends of the Environment has made a huge impact in ensuring children are protectors of the environment in which they live.
For some community-led nonprofits, the past three years were a time to reflect, identify ways to connect communities, and bolster disaster resources on the archipelago. One Eleuthera Foundation USA (OEF), for example, has been working with other nonprofits across the Caribbean to establish more Bahamian-led organizations and a civil society network that can support communities year round. OEF has also met extensively with government units to help assess which disaster preparedness projects are vital to support communities into the future. This includes establishing emergency facilities on all of the islands that hold critical supplies to allow for rapid response if another disaster strikes.
Even after debris has been cleared, coral reefs slowly restored, and houses rebuilt, the road to recovery in the Bahamas is long. But GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partners remain committed to fueling critical community-led relief and recovery efforts.
Their work to create more resilient, sustainable communities will continue through 2023 and beyond. And their achievements will continue to be a source of hope and a testament to the power of community-led change.
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