GER3 has had another busy week contributing to hurricane Dorian response and recovery efforts in Grand Bahama. Our Global Response Team collaborated with many organizations to coordinate the ongoing response efforts and begin the transition into the recovery phase. We have continued our work restoring schools in Freeport and are excited to announce a partnership with UNICEF which will support the continuation of our school recovery programs over the next two weeks.
GER3’s recovery work in public schools in Freeport has scaled up significantly through our new partnership with UNICEF. As one of the first international organizations on the ground in Grand Bahama post Dorian, GER3’s ongoing focus on schools has been recognized and appreciated at many levels. Working closely with the District Superintendent since the early stages of the response, UNICEF recently selected GER3 as their partner to continue the school restoration process in Freeport. Our GRT now includes three international staff, Program Coordinator, Operations Coordinator, and Volunteer Senior Representative, and twelve local Bahamian staff. All are working closely with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education to quickly and effectively restore four selected schools in Freeport.
Two of our international staff are based in Freeport, leading the school restoration in close coordination with the District Superintendent and Ministry of Education. Our local Bahamian team has been supplied with mold remediation supplies and Personal Protective Equipment and has been trained on the appropriate techniques and processes for effective mold remediation. Team Rubicon, Port Authority, Samaritan’s Purse and others continue to supplement our work in schools as well, making excellent progress with sheetrock demolition and tarping of roofs. Once initial debris removal and mold remediation takes place, our team will be working with local service providers to support with professional sheetrock installation, flooring and other services.
At Hugh Campbell Primary School, the majority of classrooms have been gutted, disinfected with bleach and treated with sodium bi-carbonate for mold remediation. Vinyl tiles and protruding nails are being removed, walls are being scraped and prepped for spackling, and painting will follow. GER3 will be working with a local sheet rock contractor to replace ceilings and some walls. Damaged classroom materials, such as warped and rusted desks, are being assessed for repairs and possible recycling and/or reuse within the schools. Our GRT expects some classrooms to be ready on Friday, September 27th.
The MoE senior consultant visited the GER3 sites and expressed satisfaction with the work and training carried out thus far. Our team continues to work closely with the Ministry of Education to ensure that the schools reopen as quickly as possible and in line with appropriate guidance, regulations and approvals.
GER3 Senior Representative and volunteer, Iain Logan, is based in Nassau and continues to represent GER3 at key meetings and working groups, including a Debris Management group where a number of INGOs, including GER3, have been asked by the Ministry of the Environment to present inputs and contribute advice and suggestions to the government’s Debris Management Plan of Action. GER3 is also active with UNICEF and three other agencies in the Education Working Group, helping to develop a coordinated approach to their planning process. Logan is ensuring that GER3 adheres to all accreditation and registration requirements and regulations related to our work in the Bahamas and continues to ensure our team is well connected and coordinated with the Government of the Bahamas’ key ministries and other recovery organizations. GER3 sees an ongoing need for recovery and reconstruction in both Grand Bahama and Abaco and will continue to explore options for expanding our programs over the next several weeks.