About the Bahamas
The Bahamas is an independent country composed of an archipelago of 700 islands and islets, of which 30 are inhabited.
The island chain has 13,878 km2 (5,358 sq mi) with a population of 391,000 people. The most populous islands are New Providence, where Nassau, the capital and largest city, is located; and Grand Bahama, home to the second-largest city of Freeport. English is the spoken language.
The economy is heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Tourism alone provides an estimated 51% of the gross domestic product and employs about half the Bahamian workforce. In 2016, over 3 million tourists visited the Bahamas, mostly from the United States and Canada.
The YMCA of Grand Bahama
The YMCA of Grand Bahama was founded in 1970 in Freeport and has been for many years the only functioning community facility of its kind on the Grand Bahama Island.
The YMCA offers a wide range of community services including after-school programs, sports, swimming, recreation, arts, and a rehabilitation center for youth offenders. YMCA programs serve people from different socio-economic backgrounds and impact approximately 2,000 people every year.
The YMCA of Grand Bahama suffered significant damages in 2004 following 2 major hurricanes and closed its doors for nearly 2 years. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew also damaged the YMCA infrastructure, compromising children and youth safety. With the support of the international community, the YMCA rapidly helped bring a sense of security, restoration, and hope by providing a safe place and a meeting point for the community during difficult times.
Between Sunday, September 1st and Tuesday, September, 3rd, 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the northern Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 185 mph, torrential rains, and relentless flooding. Dorian has been the slowest-moving major hurricane ever observed. Initial reports mention devastation on the islands’ infrastructure, vast areas underwater, and at least 50 fatalities in Abaco and Grand Bahamas Islands, and hundreds remain missing. Several international organizations estimated in the initial hours that at least 13,000 houses were damaged or destroyed.
Dorian impact on the YMCA of Grand Bahama
On Wednesday, September 4th, Karon Pinder-Johnson, Chief Executive Director of the YMCA reported that all YMCA staff is accounted for and safe. 70% of the Grand Bahama island was covered in water and there is no power or running water across the island.
The YMCA was flooded, 75% of the roof was damaged, all five pool pumps and three heat pumps were lost due to flooding, treadmills and ellipticals were underwater, office furniture was wet, perimeter fencing was down, and the dugouts for the soccer and baseball fields were destroyed. Fortunately, the main building is still standing.
The YMCA Response
The YMCA is responding in the Grand Bahama island following Dorian’s landfall as one of the most powerful, slow-moving Atlantic hurricanes on record.
The YMCA of Grand Bahama team and a group of youth volunteers met on September 5th to begin cleanup and removal of debris in the YMCA facilities and walked about in the area to assess the needs of the community. The inventory included more than 120 homes, including houses and apartments, where the YMCA team listened to people, expressed support, and understood their needs.
In the storm’s immediate aftermath, the YMCA has opened its doors to the community every day from 7:00am to 6:00pm to provide access to toilets, safe drinking water and snacks, a place to rest and charge cell phones, and in many cases, a much-needed recreational respite from their challenges. Anyone on the island can access the facilities through September 29th.
The YMCA also conducted a clothing drive to donate to the impacted families and the YMCA will continue to provide care and support to children, teens, and young people while public schools are closed.
Moving forward, the YMCA will engage in a prolonged rehabilitation response by focusing its efforts on 4 key objectives:
- To help children, teens, young people, and senior citizens cope with stress while parents focus on recovery.
- To increase community awareness of disaster prevention and management.
- To strengthen the YMCA’s ability to support the long-term recovery of the community.
- To support YMCA staff impacted by the disaster.
The YMCA may add new objectives and activities as they continue to determine the medium and long-term needs of the community.
How To Send Your Help?
Financial contributions are the most effective way to help at this time. The Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs will collect gifts on behalf of the YMCA of Grand Bahama for their relief and rehabilitation efforts and assist with international emergency coordination. 100% of the gifts will be sent to the YMCA of Grand Bahama.
|Name:||Alianza Latinoamericana y del Caribe de ACJ AC|
|Address:||Av. Ejército Nacional 253 1er Piso, Mexico City, CP 11320, Mexico|
|Telephone:||+52 (55) 998 – 2062265|
|Name:||BBVA Bancomer, S.A.|
|Currency:||USD (American dollars)|
|Branch Address:||Av. Cuitlahuac 3331, Mexico City, CP 02840, Mexico|
|Telephone:||+52 (55) 5342 – 4059|
Please write “YMCA Bahamas” in the description/reference section and send a copy of the wire transfer confirmation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: U.S. donors amy give through YMCA World Service at https://donate.ymca.net and note “Bahamas YMCA” in the comments box .
People and organizations interested in donating and shipping goods, please contact Antonio Merino at email@example.com.
We urge YMCAs around the world, partners, and friends to continue praying for the people of the Bahamas and the U.S. East coast and provide the moral and financial support needed to help the YMCA of Grand Bahama bring once again a sense of security, restoration and hope to the community.
Our heartfelt gratitude to our donors for your support with this emergency appeal and disseminating this information.
For additional information or the detailed work plan, and questions or expressions of solidarity please email Antonio Merino at firstname.lastname@example.org.