Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas – The devastating loss of life
experienced by the northern Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian will surely echo for generations. For the most vulnerable among us – the
children – the impact of the storm’s passage has been immediate. With
scores of people still missing, many children may likely have been
orphaned, and the Grand Bahama Children’s Home (GBCH) is a safe
space that they could call home.

The GBCH has provided a haven for abused and neglected children ranging in age from six weeks to fourteen years, for over 40 years. In the wake of Hurricane Dorian’s wrath, however, this institution, like countless

other homes and businesses on Grand Bahama Island, now finds itself in need of a complete restoration. Rising floodwaters not only displaced the more than 30 children but also gutted the Home’s buildings.

“We sustained significant damage” explained Executive Director of the
GBCH Sheila Johnson-Smith “What wasn’t totally destroyed is now mold-
infested so we are literally starting from the ground up.”

Over the past three weeks, volunteers from all over North America,
including Florida, Colombia, Mexico, and Trinidad converged on the
home’s back-of-town site to assist with the huge task of emptying the
buildings of their soggy, moldy contents. While the home is unlivable, all 32
children have been safely tucked away in New Providence at the Ranfurly
Home for Children and two other Homes there.

“This has been a harrowing and very traumatizing experience for our
children,” said Johnson-Smith, “however the Directors of the homes have
all been in constant contact with me, reassuring me that our children are
being well taken care of. That has been a relief for our entire team and has
made it a little easier to focus on the rebuild efforts.”

According to the Home’s executive team, the destruction caused by
Hurricane Dorian has led more Grand Bahamians to the Children’s Home
than ever before, asking for assistance. For exactly this reason, noted
Johnson-Smith, they are working feverishly to put their Home back
together.

“At this time, we simply have nowhere to house anyone or take anyone in,
which is why this restoration effort is so important. We understand that
now, more than ever, our services will be in great demand and we are
working along with the Department of Social Services to assist where we
can until we are able to reopen our doors as a place of safety and
protection for our children.”

Anyone interested in helping with the restoration of the Grand Bahama
Children’s Home is encouraged to donate to the organization’s GoFundMe
account: https://www.gofundme.com/f/Rebuild-Grand-Bahama-Childrens-
Home?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_
cp+share-sheet

“As our children are now in Nassau, we are not asking for any perishables,”
said GBCH Executivezxsd Board Member, Sarah Kirkby. “We are in need
of money; it’s as simple as that. Sadly, we need to rebuild our three
housing areas, our offices, and (build) two new wings in preparation for any
additional children that the Department of Social Services may wish to
place with us, following this horrific hurricane.”

Thanks to the overwhelming assistance from volunteers and because of
the staff’s around-the-clock dedication, the Home has been cleaned,
gutted, and had the moldy, water-stained sheetrock walls cut out and
discarded. “Spartan Builders is already on-site; we have limited insurance
to rebuild, but we are determined to get going right away,” Kirkby noted.
“Our plan is also to use local builders, in order to support our Grand

Bahama economy. It is the corporate entities here and the people of
Freeport who have kept us open all these years.”

To follow the Grand Bahama Children’s Home’s progress, connect with the
Home via its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Grand-Bahama-
Childrens-Home-110943278942070/. “We thank every single person for their calls, their emails, and their donations,” said Smith. “After such drama
and devastation, the unprecedented care of the world for our Home is
making us walk tall again and ready to rebuild.”

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