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Fund assists Bahamas students, teachers displaced by Hurricane Dorian

A separate appeal addresses displaced families living temporarily in private homes around Nassau

MIAMI | Two months after Hurricane Dorian upended life in the northern Bahamas, a newly-launched fund will support hundreds of Catholic school students displaced by the historic storm. 

The Archdiocese of Nassau recently launched the Each One Reach One (EORO) initiative of its Bahamas Catholic Board of Education, through which donors can assist some 220 students from Abaco and Grand Bahamas who have enrolled in Catholic schools in and around the Bahamas capital of Nassau in New Providence. 

Most of the displaced are now enrolled at Catholic schools that are part of the Bahamas Catholic Board of Education and 20 others are at private Catholic schools, according to Janelle Albury, development officer with the Bahamas Catholic Board of Education. She spoke by phone with the Florida Catholic Nov. 8. 

Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy in Grand Bahama reopened a month after Hurricane Dorian, but many of the homes of students there were destroyed by the storm.

Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC

Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy in Grand Bahama reopened a month after Hurricane Dorian, but many of the homes of students there were destroyed by the storm.

She said Catholic schools in the Bahamas have a mandate to maintain affordable fees to ensure Catholic education is available to as many families as possible. Annual fees for Catholic schools in the Nassau Archdiocese start at close to $3,000. 

Albury cited a report by a global children’s charity noting that getting children back to school is vital for their survival after natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons and hurricanes.

The EORO fund will also assist a total of 35 displaced Catholic school teachers and staff from the impacted areas. All the teachers and staff at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School and Every Child Counts School had to leave Abaco, and those who did not come to New Providence went to the U.S. or Canada, Albury said. 

The process by which teachers were placed in other Catholic Board of Education schools was dependent on the needs of the school and the adjustment to enrollment. Some teachers chose to resign and return to their home countries. 

The Category 5 Hurricane Dorian — which first made landfall on Sept. 1 — resulted in the indefinite closing of St. Francis de Sales School in Abaco, which suffered both high winds and devastating storm surge. 

Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy in Grand Bahama has reopened but many of the homes of students there were destroyed by the storm. 

"This program, EORO, intends to provide personal care and individual attention to those most severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian,” Nassau Archbishop Patrick Pinder said in a statement. “This is charity alive and on a very human scale. This is what solidarity in action looks like."

Separately, the Archdiocese of Nassau is appealing for material and financial support for other evacuees who have relocated to New Providence. They are not living in shelters but with relatives and may need assistance with food, blankets, sheets, towels and toiletries. 

That outreach is being managed by the Nassau Archdiocesan Office of Family Life and is a direct response to evacuees coming mostly to New Providence from Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Grand Bahamas and St. Francis de Sales and Sts. Mary and Andrew Parishes in Abaco. 

A recent report from the Bahamas Catholic Board of Education noted that while Abaco was most severely impacted by the storm, Grand Bahama received significant damage with only five miles of the island not flooding. Flooded homes impacted approximately 85% to 90% of the student population. 

While structures are still standing, many of the buildings are not livable, though electricity and water have been restored.

The Bahamas death toll following Hurricane Dorian stands at approximately 70 persons. One estimate puts the material damage at $7 billion. The storm lingered over Abaco and Grand Bahamas for some 70 hours. 

The country’s tourism industry has been appealing to foreigners to visit the country’s other islands this holiday season as a means of helping the Bahamas recover economically. Tourism high season runs from December through April.

To obtain more information or to receive instructions on making a wire transfer email: [email protected].

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