International humanitarian agency IsraAID continues to help The Bahamas, as has been the case since the passage of Hurricane Dorian last year. More recently, IsraAID embarked on yet another program of assistance, this time to fight against COVID-19.
This past Friday, October 9, the local arm of the organization made a special presentation of hygienic supplies to Freeport Primary, one of 10 schools that will receive such donations from IsraAID.
According to Valerie Seymour, community and education specialist, IsraAID/ Bahamas partnership is longstanding, as the group has positively impacted the country in a number of ways over the past year.
“IsraAID came to The Bahamas a few days after Hurricane Dorian, and we have continued to partner with the Ministry of Education (MOE), in a number of endeavours. We worked, initially with the ministry on providing training and psycho- social support for teachers and counselors, after the hurricane. Over the course of COVID, we have provided tablets to the ministry, additional COVID related training for teachers, in terms of dealing with stress, in relating to the pandemic and supporting parents.
“Today, what we are doing is looking at how we can help with a healthy return to school. We are providing hand sanitizers, disposable gloves and masks, disinfectants, as well as reusable cloth masks. We are pleased to say that the sanitizers were made in The Bahamas, in Nassau, as well as the disinfectant. The cloth masks were made by a local seamstress, here in Grand Bahama.
She continued: “We are going to be doing this kind of distribution to 10 primary school settings, on the island, as well as, we would have made a donation through the Ministry, to the Grand Cay All Age School. We were able to partner with the anchor division of The Pilot Club of Lucaya, in providing cloth masks to Walter Parker Primary. We are really pleased with that community partnership.”
Ivan Butler, district superintendent, Ministry of Education, thanked IsraAID for the donation, on behalf of the Ministry.
“At the Ministry of Education (MOE) we are very pleased with this donation from IsraAID, here today. As mentioned earlier, IsraAID has been with us from Hurricane Dorian, and, we are very pleased with what they have done over the past several months.
The donation of hygienic supplies to all of our primary schools, and even Grand Cay Comprehensive School, will go a long way in meeting our mandate of ‘Safety first; Education Always.’
“We are very thankful to Mrs. Seymour and her organizing committee for donating these much-needed supplies and I assure you, they will go a long way in helping to keep our children safe,” concluded Butler.
Gia Walker, principal, Freeport Primary School, also expressed similar sentiments, noting that the donation is indeed timely and will greatly assist the school in keeping all students, staff and teachers safe.
“We are quite excited here at Freeport Primary. The donations are quite timely. With all of the protocols in place, we are trying our best to ensure that we have sanitizers, disinfectants, and cleaning equipment. We are using them quite often, daily, and, so the fact that we are receiving some relief in this way, it is greatly appreciated,” she said.
With the first full week back to school for the 2020/2021 academic year, completed, the principal was questioned as to how the students are adjusting to the new norm.
“So far so good. We are taking it day by day, but we are making sure that it works.
We are practicing the hybrid model, and so, we do not have all of our students in every day. We have three grade levels in school each day, and then the other days are virtual. We are working out the kinks and we are just asking parents to continue to be patient with us, as we get it all straight.”
She added that the students returned to school well-prepared and were fully aware of the protocol rules.
“They know that they have to keep on their masks, and of course we have extras just in case. They are managing with their social distancing. You know it has been a while since they would have seen some of their friends, and, so we have to remind them to stay apart. That would probably be the most difficult thing at this time,” added Walker.