ABACO, BAHAMAS — With hand-painted signs held high, students at Central Abaco Primary School welcomed representatives of the Lyford Cay and Canadian Lyford Cay Foundations, thanking them for generous donations that helped rebuild the school destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.
It was a celebration nearly two years in the making.
“We were so touched and moved to see what was achieved with this beautiful new Central Abaco Primary School, thanks in part to the hard work of many and to the donations of generous contributors to the Lyford Cay Foundations,” said Dr Nicola Virgill-Rolle, Lyford Cay Foundations executive director, who led the expedition to Abaco.
“Lyford Cay Foundations representatives witnessed the immediate aftermath when there was almost nothing but rubble and debris to clear away and today we are planting Abaco neem trees at one of the most stunning schools in all The Bahamas.”
“As The Bahamas prepares for the 2021 hurricane season, we wanted to let our donors know that their generosity helped make it possible for the Foundations to play a significant role in rebuilding and re-tooling education efforts throughout The Bahamas following the worst hurricane in Bahamian history,” said Tim Unwin, chairman of the Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation.
“While the lion’s share of the donations went to rebuild the Central Abaco Primary School, we were also able to assist with other education projects and immediate relief. We want to thank those generous donors, especially the Loretta Rogers family, who recognized the urgent needs of The Bahamas.”
According to Unwin, the goal of the unprecedented response to the natural disaster was two-pronged — to provide tools for students to continue their education with as little disruption as possible and to support the rebuilding of the school that was all but totally destroyed. Lyford Cay scholars studying at universities abroad, whose families were impacted by Dorian, were also granted additional scholarship assistance as the Foundations recognized that the usual family support would be difficult.
The Foundations partnered with the Ministry of Education to supply laptops and tablets, donated to the Salvation Army, to provide cleaning kits to assist families who were able to return to their homes; replaced lost equipment at the Sir Charles Hayward Library in Grand Bahama; assisted Lend a Hand; and contributed to the Bahamas Red Cross to support disaster relief and crisis management.
“The hurricane took such an emotional toll on those who were impacted and our hearts went out to the families, especially with young children whose lives were totally upended. That is why, in addition to assisting in funding the rebuilding of the Central Abaco Primary School which served hundreds of students prior to its destruction in 2019, we wanted to provide tools for students to continue their education. The school has now been rebuilt to a standard where it can also serve as a hurricane shelter.”
According to Lyford Cay Foundation Inc Chairman Basil Goulandris, the Abaco school project not only reflected commitment but demonstrated innovation.
“We were able to sponsor a cash-for-work program through which local Abaco crews were mobilized alongside international partners to complete the sanitation of the primary school, stabilize and repair the roof, install new drywall throughout and make other improvements which benefited students and the community,” Goulandris said.
The Lyford Cay Foundations, along with a team from the Disaster Recovery Authority (DRA), toured the school and other sites within the disaster area.
“The construction improvements on the Central Abaco Primary School are commendable and will provide great impact for the students, staff and the wider Abaco community,” said Virgill-Rolle.