Representatives of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) out of Miami, Florida, recently made a special trip to Grand Bahama, to personally deliver hurricane relief and school supplies to executives of the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT).
BUT President, Belinda Wilson and members of her executive board were on-hand to receive the goods.
Wilson thanked their South Florida counterparts for the timely and much-needed donation, which will go towards assisting their members and students on the islands that were severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian last month.
“I was really happy this morning that UTD has stretched their loving arms and wrapped them around the BUT and by extension, the members of the Grand Bahama District.
“In fact, I am even happier because the UTD connection started years ago and I am so happy that the current president has expanded the relationship that we have built from the 1990s. We intend to continue that relationship going forward, and I hope that not only for disasters, but we will also be able to partner, probably in some sort of professional development and some other things that will benefit our members.”
President of UTD, Karla Hernandez-Mats explained that the donation to the BUT was the least that they could do to assist their brothers and sisters in need in The Bahamas.
“Today, we are here with other union brothers to give back to The Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT). We are neighbours, just across the waters and we believe in this brotherhood and sisterhood and we believe in each other, especially in times of need.
“A few weeks ago, after the hurricane had pased and we saw that there was so much devastation, we made an all call, we asked all of our members, almost 16,000 members that we have in Miami, to donate things for the teachers and the students here in The Bahamas.
“We had a tremendous collection; we sent out 25 pallets through Carnival Cruise Lines, about two weeks ago that was shipped into The Bahamas. We decided to come here personally, to meet the officers of The Bahamas Union of Teachers. We wanted to make surethat they met us; that we have this collegial friendship and, going forward, trying to really assess how else we can help.
“We know that education is the most powerful tool that any child, in any community can have, in order to have economic growth and so we want to give back and we want to be here for our brothers and sisters in The Bahamas,” concluded Hernandez-Mats
Former BUT member Tyrone Hield, who is now a UTD member was influential in forging the latest partnership between the two unions. He shared it was truly an honour to do so and work alongside such remarkable people.
“I have been an educator for the past 30 years, a part of that 30-year run has been 11 years as a member of the BUT, being a Shop Steward for three schools out of New Providence.
“I have never forgotten my connection and the great experiences I had here, in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. As I went back home and returned to the United Teachers of Dade, I saw this particular bridging coming a long time ago. This was just the opportunity and catalyst for me to bring it together and make the connection,” said Hield.
“I am only the mouthpiece, but we have two presidents and by the way two powerful women, that I respect a whole lot. And so, going forward will continue to bridge this gap and keep this bond.
“I am so appreciative of this team, this morning, that travelled with us, including our pilot Captain Barrington Erving, who flew us over very safely and ably.
“We also had a great Bahamian breakfast; I could not leave the island without them experiencing the great Bahamian hospitality; thank you so much,” noted Hield.