When on disaster relief standby in St. Lucia late last year, a vicious storm killed over 30 people on the beautiful island of Dominica and wiped out roads and bridges, many buildings and there was a real emergency. Our 97' boat ran two missions there with water, medical supplies and we even transported military help. The Red Cross and Rotary Club, and even the largest Caribbean wireless network company and supermarkets got involved and we became part of the government of St. Lucia's official response to sister islands. IRG Reserve yachts volunteers to help too.
Is there anyone out there who could help find and coordinate supplies? Please scroll down to the bottom of this plea for a list of needs.
Thunderbird 5, IRG's flagship boat, is presently re-fitting in Florida getting ready for our next missions. If someone can volunteer to help get supplies to us, we can arrange various means to transport aid and volunteers to Dominica. If you can help with cash donations, please click here.
International Rescue Group, http://www.internationalrescuegroup.org
A 501(c)(3) US public benefit nonprofit corporation
Plea from IRG's contact in Dominica SSCA Station Manager Joan Conover.
During the Dominica Yacht Appreciation Week, Feb 14-21st, we had the opportunity to visit the local elementary School, Roosevelt Douglas Primary School, Portsmouth Commonwealth of Dominica, with Magoe Johnson of www.macarioadvantage.org. Imagine my shock to discover a school having funding cut to an extreme level, all due to Hurricane Erica damages last summer. It does make sense, the island's road and other critical infrastructure were severely damaged, the government is only able to fund bare minimums of public services as it deals with the financial aftermath of the disaster. The government is doing the most they can with a limited budget, the same as any individual facing a natural disaster of this magnitude.
For a public school this even comes down to needing toilet paper for the restrooms. At RDPS, we found a devoted principal, Mr Terry Wallace, and his staff working to provide high quality education while facing tremendous logistical issues. School supplies or clothes for a student(black shoes!), lunch program/or at least one meal a day for a
student-if needed, is coming directly out of Mr. Wallace's pocket. Meeting his wife at an event, she smiled and said, yes we do it(use their own funds) for the children. While I am sure the students will obtain an education, it would be so much better if some of the financial pressures could be eased for students and administrators. What is also sad, NO ONE KNEW of the needs; the boats that came south for the event could have carried assistance in the way of supplies. ..... if we know a vessel is coming, can make arrangements for customs and for pickup. Items can also be left at the Portsmouth Authority for Yacht Security (PAYS) office, marked for the elementary school, in Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth Dominica. ...This effort is similar to a finger in the dyke, but if the immediate issues facing the school(s) such as Roosevelt Douglas can be assisted, it could prevent many future problems for these children.
From Prinicpal Wallace: "The school is RDPS (Roosevelt Douglas Primary School), Portsmouth, Dominica ...freely share our needs to those you are convinced are serious about assisting. Thank you again in your endeavor to provide assistance to my school."
Again we were extremely impressed with the efforts being made to overcome very difficult funding issues. 15 classrooms made out of the space for 12. Administration areas moved to small storage areas to let children have room for classes. The PTA works to provide a type of 'lunch' or snack for children --there are no seats or cafeteria to eat in; children stand and munch on packaged snacks/chips. That's 'lunch' when no lunch room or chairs even are available. And some children without funds, 'go home for lunch' mid day. They may not return for PM classes missing even more schooling. The outside standing area, its open to the sky and to rain, its not paved, so can either be very muddy or flood. There are issues with providing simple basics such as toilet paper. There are no screens or windows or doors-no air conditioning; with the fear of Zika, here you have the young girls and young boys of Dominica's future. I am sure there are no funds for mosquito spray....
Having said all that, the school is spotlessly clean; things that can be done with parents and PTA volunteers are done. They have dedicated teachers and administrators who care desperately; every items is treasured in the library with their carefully organized reading materials. The children are well dressed in uniforms and smiling; they trust the adults will correct the issues. My fear with these problems is due to the young age of these students, once a child slows down or skips areas of elementary learning--it will hard if not impossible to catch up. And that is when the dropouts start-when its too difficult to face school work, or even go to school due to lack of basic tools. This school needs help and if cruisers can bring items and leave as gifts for Roosevelt Douglas Elementary School, then it will take one more stress off the principal who is doing everything he can to make ends meet.
Boats could bring the following items as 'gifts' (the customs word) to help: