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BAHAMAS: Rotary to the Rescue



#Freeport, GB, October 31, 2019 – Bahamas – Keenly aware of the decimation Hurricane Dorian left behind on Grand Bahama, particularly over the eastern end of the island, taking with it loved ones and homes, members of the five Rotary clubs on island rode a convoy into Pelican Point last week with desperately needed building materials, generators, fuel and more fresh drinking water.

The elated and grateful residents welcomed the cavalry when the two 40-foot trailers laden with roofing and building materials and truckloads of essentials arrived.

“I’m overwhelmed with joy because I didn’t know that this day would come that somebody would really think about us enough to want to do this for us,” Ianthe Laing, a resident of 49 years said. “It is a new start, a new beginning.”

Most of the residents in the east have lost everything and a number of them, loved ones, including entire families, who remain missing after they were swept out to sea during Dorian’s raging surge.

For some, before now the road ahead seemed bleak and onerous, not knowing how and if they can rebuild with no insurance, financial aid or clue where to start. Much of the homes that remain are for the most part unlivable and camping tents erected in front of these structures act as make shift lodgings.

But with some relief in sight for residents of Pelican Point who are living out their worst nightmare, it is literally a dream come true.

“I’m so happy, I can’t even express my feeling right now,” said Elvina Bain. “I’ve been hearing that supplies are coming since the hurricane left and this is the first time that I’m seeing it.”

Bain has resided in Pelican Point all of her life but moved inland to escape the impending forecasted monstrous hurricane. When she returned a week after the storm after the roads were made passable again, she found her house was in-tact but had suffered extensive roof damage and flooding.

Now, after gutting out her home and attempting to salvage what she can, picking up the pieces to the life she and her family once knew is proving to be one mammoth task. Making their efforts all the more egregious is the sporadic downpour of rain which gives birth to a new leaky episode.

“When it rains it pours,” said Bain who has moved back home and like many others who have returned are determined to rebuild the community of Pelican Point.

It was day 51 after Hurricane Dorian left its deadly path of destruction on Grand Bahama and Abaco and that many days since the Rotary Clubs of Lucaya, Freeport, Sunrise, Sunset and Grand Bahama have galvanized into action and pooled its resources with Rotary International to bring more help and relief to residents on the island. This time, Pelican Point would be the first settlement in the east to receive building materials.

Rotarian volunteer Rich Halpern, a member of the five person central committee whose responsibilities include setting up and managing the rebuilding program said the program was initiated exclusively for East Grand Bahama.

“We’re going to be the first ones out there actually bringing them hammers, nails, sheetrock, plywood and peel and stick. We had a benefactor that came to us, no strings attached, and just said ‘I want to give this to you and I want you to use it wisely and account for it’ and it was a lot of money,” Halpern said, pointing out that it is a global relief effort and one that is giving him goose bumps just talking about it.

Disaster Relief Committee Director James Sarles said Rotary operating as first responders initially brought in totes to be able to supply water, survivor goods and basic supplies to the residents of East Grand Bahama which was hardest hit.

The second phase, he added, is to get people back in their homes.

“So the monies that we raised with generous partners like Equinor, we’re going through the building phase. Today, it’s very exciting. Two 40-foot trailers, all of those building materials, have been paid for through our generous sponsors and it’s exciting for us today with just weeks after the storm that we are here on the ground,” he said.

“Rotary, which is a service organization – all volunteers – has been working tirelessly for five weeks, some of them had similar problems with their own home but they still came out.”

Local contractors are carrying out the work and will go from house to house.

“Once everything is dried in, then we’re going to do mold remediation. Mold is a very serious issue. Everything’s got to come out of the house and it has to be treated properly and you have to wear the right mask and protective tie-back suits,” said Sarles.

After that work is completed, Sarles said they will bring in the sheetrock and before long the residents will be able to move back into their homes.

“Then we’re going to help them with airbeds and doing everything that we can to get them back and to create some sort of normalcy with their life. That’s really what Rotary is all about. We’re a service organization and our motto is service above self,” he added.

“It makes me proud to be a Rotarian to help the people and certainly Grand Bahama is in a situation that we need the help and we’re doing the best we can.”

Area Governor of Rotary 6990 for Grand Bahama Lisbeth Knowles noted that the goal is to start with Pelican Point, move to Free Town and then on to McLean’s Town.

“We’re just really happy that we can help everybody here in Pelican Point and later the rest of East End. We’ll do as much as we can with the donations that we have received so far and we are really grateful. We are trying to get as many donations in as possible because there is a lot of work to do,” she said.

Contractor Steve Laing, who is also from Pelican Point, was overjoyed to see the outpouring of donated building and roofing materials for the people of East Grand Bahama.

“This is the first set of materials to hit the ground in Pelican Point and we are so thankful because the people were so discouraged and this brings a ray of hope in [them] at least starting to put their life back together,” said Laing who was speechless when he first returned home after the storm.

“You can’t imagine the beauty of this place before the storm and the horror of this place after the storm. People who know Pelican Point, this is the cleanliest settlement on the island, but now it just lies in ruin and the folks are really in despair.”

Laing said their new reality makes one learn to appreciate the simple things in life.

“I want the folks in Freeport and the rest of The Bahamas to know that even though they are living a somewhat normal life, 95 per cent of the people in this area don’t have a home. There is no place to use the restroom, no power, no running water, there’s no restaurant, no shops, no nothing,” he said.

“In the nighttime it’s just darkness. So to have these guys come and bring these supplies it really makes us feel good.”

The Rotary Clubs plan to head back to the east shortly to take supplies into residents of Free Town.

Release: Rotary International

Photo Captions:

Header: The Rotary Clubs on Grand Bahama are on a mission to get help to residents of East Grand Bahama whose homes were destroyed after Hurricane Dorian hit the island nearly two months ago. From left are Jaims Carey, president of the Rotary Club of Lucaya; Jackie Russell, secretary of the Rotary Club of Grand Bahama; Lorine Miller, president of the Rotary Club of Freeport; James Sarles, past president of the Rotary Club of GB Sunrise; Christine van der Linde, president of the Rotary Club of Grand Bahama and Lisbeth Knowles, Area Governor for Grand Bahama District 6990.

1st insert: It was a happy day for residents of Pelican Point to witness the first delivery of building materials brought into their area by Rotary International for the purpose of repairing and rebuilding their homes after Hurricane Dorian.

2nd insert: Members from the five Rotary Clubs on island were on hand and ready to off load the desperately needed supplies they delivered for the residents of Pelican Point in East Grand Bahama.

3rd insert: Residents of Pelican Point are ready to start rebuilding their community and can now do so with the generosity of Rotary International and other private sponsors.

4th insert: Area Governor of Rotary 6990 for Grand Bahama Lisbeth Knowles was excited to be a part of the cavalry bringing in much-needed materials, generators and water to the residents of Pelican Point who were displaced after Hurricane Dorian.

5th insert: Area Governor of Rotary 6990 for Grand Bahama Lisbeth Knowles, left, and Rotarian volunteer Rich Halpern, a member of the committee responsible for setting up and managing the building program, at Gold Rock Creek just after the building materials were loaded on to trailers before heading out to deliver the goods to residents of Pelican Point

Bahamas News

Commander Defence Force attends UK-Second Caribbean Chiefs of Defence Conference, Antigua



#Bahamas, September 13, 2021 – In keeping with the Global Security Collaborative Framework and Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King’s strategic intent in strengthening joint relationships with its regional and international partnerships, Commodore King attended the UK- Chief of Defence Staff (CHoDs’) in Antigua from 1- 3 September, 2021 to share best practices and to discuss matters of mutual interest.

Accompanied by his Aide, Sub Lieutenant Delroy Dennis, the sessions also included General Sir Nick Carter; Gen Chief of Defence Staff, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland; Major General C S Collins, General Officer Commanding 1st UK Division; Lieutenant Colonel Simon Westlake Royal Marines United Kingdom’s Defence Attaché to the Caribbean; and Commander Brian Trim MBE RN Commander task Group.

Also in attendance were countries with various Chiefs of Defence Staff, in particular; Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and defence and security partners across the region, who took part virtually, and shared their views on global security and joint partnerships. They all agreed on several initiatives with training and education designed to improve collective capacity to deal with the diverse security challenges that confront the region.

The inaugural conference convened virtually in November 2020, with each of the regional Chiefs of Defence. This second conference focused on building on the success of the virtual event in strengthening the UK-Caribbean relationships, and developing concepts for UK engagement with its Caribbean partners on issues of mutual interest.

The three-day conference commenced with an ice-breaker reception and concert at Blizzard Camp, hosted by Antigua and Barbuda (ATG) – Chief of Defence Staff Colonel Telbert Benjamin, and joined by the Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams. The core conference which took place on September 2nd, began with an opening ceremony, supported by the Prime Minister of ATG, Sir Gaston Browne.

In the first core session, UK- Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland General Sir Nick Carter set out the UK perspective on the strategic context, informed by the recently concluded Integrated Review (IR) and Defence Command Plan (DCP). The three individual sessions covered issues of serious organized crime threats; regional initiatives and the implications for UK Defence engagement; and natural threats.

The UK- CDS expressed his ambition to use the conference as a vehicle for institutional capacity building, military capability development, training and education, doctrine, and concepts. These are ways to maximize collective security development with focused UK engagement while better constructing an approach that matches the region’s aspirations and requirements.

The final session of the three-day conference was held aboard HMS MEDWAY, River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel built on the Clyde. This permanent Caribbean patrol ship was deployed to the Caribbean to support disaster relief and conduct counter-trafficking operations as an alternative setting for a maritime security focused discussion. It served as a setting to discuss regional maritime security, which included talks around preparedness for Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response (HADR), and UK involvement in regional partnerships.

Photo Captions: 

Header: Participants at the UK- second Caribbean Chief of Defence Staff (CHoDs’) in Antigua, 1- 3 September, 2021. 

1st insert: Commodore Raymond King, the Commander Defence Force, presenting his country’s brief on board HMS MEDWAY, during the second Caribbean Chiefs of Defence Staff conference in Antigua. 

2nd insert: Commodore Raymond King, Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Brigadier General Steven Andrew Ortega, Commander Belize Defence Force; Lieutenant General Rocky R Meade, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force; Brigadier Godfrey Bess Chief of Staff, Guyana Defence Force; Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces: In the front row; Colonel Telbert Benjamin, Commander of Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and General Sir Nick Carter, General Chief of Defence Staff, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland.

3rd insert: Commodore Raymond King, the Commander Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Brigadier General Steven Andrew Ortega, Commander Belize Defence Force; General de Brigada Angel A Camacho Ubiera Inspector General of the Dominican Republic Army; Antigua and Barbuda – Colonel Telbert Benjamin, Commander of Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force; Major General C S Collins, General Officer Commanding 1st UK Division; Lieutenant General Rocky R Meade, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force; Brigadier Godfrey Bess Chief of Staff, Guyana Defence Force; Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces Trinidad and Tobago; and Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces.

(Photos courtesy Mr. Wayne Mariette)


 (For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website:, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 





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Bahamas News

Caribbean Wellness Day 2021



#Caribbean, September 13, 2021 – Health, in every facet, is sought-after, at great expense, by all members of the global community. Though the success of our endeavours in health varies from region to region, it must be emphasised that in our Region, a healthy Caribbean is always the goal for which we strive.

Each year the Caribbean Region observes, Caribbean Wellness Day since it was established at the 2007 landmark summit, ‘Declaration of Port of Spain: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases.’

This year’s commemoration focuses on equitable access to health; an all of society approach to health and well-being, and building healthy communities under the theme, “Power Through Collective Action: In it Together, Building Healthy Communities.”

As health care systems are being taxed by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is even more important now to advocate for equitable access to health. Too many of our Caribbean citizens face harsh realities, because of inequities in access – this should not be. Caribbean Wellness Day is the most opportune time for the members of our Caribbean community to ensure that the health of our people is indeed a priority through legislative change, health in all policies and all of society action.

Equitable access to health care in the Caribbean is one of CARPHA’s points of focus as can be seen through our work to ensure equitable access to PPE, equipment, supplies and vaccines through the COVAX facility, a mechanism whose primary function is to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and donations notably the US Government donation of 5.5 million doses of Pfizer BioNTech.

Without the power of voices in chorus, like with the COVAX facility; the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH) and others – many more would be disadvantaged and unserved. Achieving health for all in the Caribbean also means attaining and sustaining healthy environments.

The built environment, which provides for sidewalks, bike lanes, community parks and green spaces, can influence lifestyles, body weight, and improve mental health. As these necessary frameworks are made reality and we avail ourselves of them, we exercise Power through Collective Action showing that we are truly in it together, Building Healthy Communities.

As we speak about the environment, we must mention the effects of climate change. The inaction in the past has set the world on a course of environmental destruction. We need to act now; it is the only way that we can protect the generations to come from even worse realities than those we face today.

As we seek to mitigate the damage done due to inaction on the recommended major climate change interventions, we need to address other pertinent issues. Vector-borne diseases remain a challenge in many Caribbean territories, and unlike the bleak outlook that is presented on climate change, simple adjustments in our behaviour can make the world of difference.

By eradicating breeding grounds of mosquitoes in our immediate environment and communities, we minimize the spread of many vector-borne diseases. Advocacy in health should be the standard operation of every Region, State, and organisation. Sustaining Health and well-being is one of the very few universal desires.

Regardless of creed, culture, or any other divisive line – all organised bodies have a responsibility to promote health. Further to this, we need to take the time to look after ourselves and our families and communities.

Simple actions – increasing our intake of local produce, reading labels of processed foods to make informed decisions, scheduling regular exercise – these actions will drastically improve the health and quality of life of our people.

Working together to this end, will lead to healthier minds, healthier bodies, and a Caribbean that exudes wellness.

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Bahamas News

US new Vaccine mandate not for tourists and students



#TurksandCaicos, September 9, 2021 – The vast majority of visa applicants such as students and tourists do not have to worry about the new CDC requirement for Immigrant Visa applicants to be fully vaccinated.

Our news organization reached out to the US Embassy in Nassau, where Public Affairs Officer Daniel Durazo informed the notice floating around social media is true but only impacts people who are applying to live and work in the United States.

“The information circulating on social media is a notice stating that starting on October 1 the CDC will require age-appropriate Immigrant Visa applicants worldwide will to show evidence of COVID-19 vaccination.

The key detail here is the difference between Non-Immigrant Visas and Immigrant Visas. Non-Immigrant Visas (for which the requirement does not apply) make up the majority of visa applications, and include student and tourist visas. Immigrant Visas on the other hand typically involve moving permanently to the United States through a Green Card, for example, and which make up a very small fraction of visa applications,” said Durazo.

Similar to TCIs work permit holders rule, which requires guest workers to be fully vaccinated in order to be legally in the Turks and Caicos, this rule takes effect for the US on October 1st.

The notice caused quite a buzz, as the United States is a popular destination for islanders to visit and attend school. The US is also the #1 tourism source market for the Turks and Caicos; and only its vaccinated residents will be allowed into these islands;  that mandate started on September 1st.

“First, I’d like to reassure your readers that the vaccination requirement will not apply to the vast majority of Visa applicants, such as those applying for tourist and student visas.  In summary, the vast majority of visa applicants (such as students and tourists) do not have to worry about this requirement. It’s only Immigrant Visa applicants who need to take this requirement into consideration, and they will receive instructions and clarification from the consular section as appropriate when they apply.”

Residents suspected the US was activating a similar entry requirement but Durazo said the rule does not apply to visitor and student visas.  Permanent residency applicants, like those wanting Green Card will need to have full Covid 19 vaccination and he said, will receive instructions and clarification from the consular section as appropriate when they apply.

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