Dominica has been very badly damaged — on September 18th a direct hit by Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 monster packing 160-mph winds and two feet of rain, took down the island’s power, water, and communications infrastructure, and grievously wounded businesses, homes, and schools — such as the three schools above. But the worst is over and rebuilding is underway.
Generous support of our Books for Dominica campaign has put Hands in a position to restore the books in school libraries that have been battered by the hurricane. And miraculously, the 24,515 books of our 2017-2018 Hands Wish List shipment, which arrived a week before the hurricane hit, stayed safe in the island’s Customs shed. When schools signal us that their libraries are secure and their staff is ready to receive these books, we will get the 2017-2018 shipment delivered. Our 2018-2019 Hands Wish Lists shipment, which will reach Dominica in September of next year, will be targeted to restore those school libraries still in need. We anticipate bringing back all of Dominica’s school libraries during the 2018-2019 school year. It’s going to be a big shipment!
Because the mission of Hands is to advance the literacy levels of Caribbean children, our role in Dominica’s recovery is specialized. Our Hands Literacy Link for Dominica, Giselle Laurent, has been working closely with school principals, the Ministry of Education, and teams from UNICEF and the United Nations to assess damaged schools and formulate strategies to repair them. Most schools are built of concrete block with tin roofs, and their basic structures survived the storm. Typically, school libraries suffered mudslides and flooding, or rain that blasted through louvered windows, or the loss of the roof. A few schools, located on ridgetops or adjacent to rivers, were totally destroyed.
Despite the widespread damage, the recovery has been heartening. As of November 30th, 67 of Dominica’s 90 primary and secondary schools have been reopened. Over 7,800 children (that’s 65% of the attendance prior to the hurricane) are now in school or in temporary education facilities. Our Books for Dominica campaign to restore the school libraries of Dominica is ongoing. If you have friends or family who wish to help, please pass along this e-mail to them.
Many Hands supporters have been asking about disaster relief. The Resource Foundation is an organization that has been doing highly effective recovery work on the island.