By Sam Arseneau
Students raising money for Bahamas relief efforts at Welcome Fair (Phot credits: Sam Arseneau)
Tragedy struck the Bahamas on September 1, 2019 when Dorian, a category five hurricane, hit the island nation with winds of up to 322 km/h. Dorian rested over the Bahamas for almost two days, leading to death and destruction across the nation.
In the wake of the tragedy, The Cadre reached out to Bahamian students at UPEI to find out how UPEI is helping the nation recover and how people on PEI can continue to help.
Rotaract President and Bahamian, Kate Sims, was willing to answer some questions for a Cadre reporter.
How many Bahamian students are studying at UPEI?
Thereâ€™s currently 80 Bahamian students enrolled.
What are UPEI doing to help students and The Bahamas as a whole?
â€œThereâ€™s been so much support from everyone here, its insane! As of right now, UPEI has reminded us that thereâ€™s counselling services in Student Affairs on the fifth floor in Dalton Hall if we need someone to talk to or if we need support in dealing with this tragedy while being so far away from home, as well as the Chaplaincy Centre.
On Thursday (Sept 5), The President and Vice Chancellor of UPEI, Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, held an informal gathering for Bahamian students to come together and support each other, which was really thoughtful to do. And the Rotaract Club of UPEIâ€™s, including the International Student Office, first incentive is to help Abaco and Grand Bahamas (the two islands affected by Hurricane Dorian) by accepting donations to send down to The Bahamas for relief efforts.â€
What should people donate?
â€œEither financial donations or supplies. Thereâ€™s currently a GoFundMe established on Facebook: HeadKnowles Emergency Funds. This is the largest, and I believe is the best, one to donate to if you can and/or are able to! If you prefer to donate cash instead of on the GoFundMe, head to the ISO [International Students Office] and see how to go about donating cash. And if you arenâ€™t able to donate money, supplies are also accepted, but not at the moment. Right now, the ISO canâ€™t take supplies, as thereâ€™s nowhere to store them until theyâ€™re being shipped, but soon the details regarding that will be worked out.
Supplies donations can include non-perishable foodstuffs, first aid items/kits, blankets, batteries, cleaning supplies/disinfectants, hygiene supplies/toiletries/feminine hygiene products, insect repellents, and trash bags. This is just a short list out of many that can be found on Facebook. If thereâ€™s something on any of those lists or here that you think should be included, donate it! Anything helps.â€
How can people help? Where do they go to do that?
â€œDonate, donate, donate! Join the Island to Island Hurricane Relief group to join other Bahamians and PEI islanders in supporting relief efforts for The Bahamas. Thereâ€™s plenty of information that can be found online that can inform you more on the situation and more specifically on how you can help; thereâ€™s news articles written, posts on Facebook, and hashtags such as #bahamasstrong #abacostrong #242strong and #hurricanedorian on Instagram and Twitter that can lead you in the right direction!â€
How can students, more specifically, help?
â€œEverything that Iâ€™ve mentioned so far, but please be there for your fellow Bahamian friends and peers. Check up on them, especially those from Abaco and Grand Bahama. Any support is appreciated.â€
Anything else you’d like to add?
â€œIâ€™d just like to send out a huge thank you to everyone who has supported and/or donated in the last week! This was the largest and most destructive hurricane ever recorded in history and Abaco and Grand Bahama certainly felt Dorianâ€™s wrath. However, Iâ€™d like to add that not the ENTIRE Bahamas was destroyed. Only two islands really felt the hurricaneâ€™s effects, and felt them hard.
Families have been forced from the homes theyâ€™ve known their entire lives and friends who have evacuated to different countries â€“ whether its different states in the USA, another island in The Bahamas, a province in Canada, or elsewhere â€“ donâ€™t know when theyâ€™ll be able to see and hang out with each other again. Almost everyone has lost loved ones to this monster. Right now, more than ever, we need your help. Itâ€™s going to be a lengthy process to rebuild and restore these islands to their full strength again. Keep donating, keep supporting, keep educating, keep vacationing (you can still swim with the pigs in Exuma) and eventually the goal will have been reached.â€
The Bahamas are still suffering to this day and will continue to need support as they recover from the mass destruction Hurricane Dorian left in its wake.