The past few weeks have been some of the best for our community coming together to support the Bahamian Students. Seeing religious organizations, businesses and philanthropists come together and respond to my call for help for 28 extraordinary Bahamian students has filled my soul with joy.
These high school and college-aged students have traveled away from the comfort of their families and the safety of their homes in search of a better life. Some of their parents are affluent; others are making a huge sacrifice for their children or grandchildren in hopes that they will find a level of success in America that is not possible in the Bahamas.
Each of their stories are touching on a good day, but in the middle of the devastation, unlike anything I have ever seen, their stories become even more profound. I could recount story after story of unimaginable loss, but none of the stories touched me more than the one of the freshman students at GSU has.
On August 10th, a remarkable young man on his 18th birthday saw his and his parent’s dream come true when he arrived in Statesboro to attend Georgia Southern University. This would be the last time he would see his Dad alive. His Dad returned home to the Bahamas for work and his Mother and other three siblings traveled to Rwanda for an extended vacation with her family. Had it not been for that vacation, and the realization of the dream of attending GSU, they would have all been in their home on the east side of Grand Bahama Island. They were told that it was one of the best-built homes on the island and they had nothing to fear. It did withstand the wind, but the 14-foot tidal surge proved fatal for his Dad and many others. Of the 15 Georgia Southern students who accepted our offer for help, this young man, who had lost everything, was the last to accept.
This defines their character. They do not want a hand out or even a hand up, but there just does not seem to be any other way. Without your help, they would have to return to a life they are struggling to improve and a home that is no more. To make matters worse, many of these students are here on an education visa, which does not allow them to work.
In fact, not one of them approached us or even asked for help for themselves. We met them through their efforts to collect donations of food, water and supplies to somehow get to their parents, family, friends and neighbors. The were scared, but determined not to sit idle. They wanted to help in any way possible, but simply did not really understand how. Therefore, they just did something. Anything they could to get help.
Statatesboro Bahamian Students families suffer devastating loss
Working through GSU and Georgia Premier Academy, we identified 38 Bahamian students who have families in the areas affected by Hurricane Dorian. Ten of the 38 refused help, because they had not been effected as much as others had. Therefore, they asked us to direct our help to the ones who needed it most.
When we met with five of the students initially, it was difficult to watch as they sobbed and expressed concern for their families, many of whom they still had not heard from at that time. They asked for help for their families and requested our assistance in getting supplies to them as quickly as possible.
When they left that meeting, we knew we had to do more and do it quickly. We have worked to locate people who would “adopt a student” and help them financially. Many of you stepped up and together, we have made a tremendous difference so far.
Join the effort
There is still much more to be done. If you are interested in helping us make a difference in these student’s lives by supporting these students financially to help meet their daily needs they would be so grateful.
We also need help raising the money to see that every student has an opportunity to return to see their families, take supplies and help them where they can.
Lastly, we need financial support to help stabilize their parent’s houses so that rebuilding can begin.
To help financially:
- In person to the Statesboro Bahamian Student Relief Fund at any Synovus bank.
- By mail make check to the Statesboro Bahamian Student Relief Fund, C/O Synovus – Attn: Mall Branch, P.O. Box 568, Statesboro, GA 30459
- Give electronically through a fund established at Crossroads Community Church at mycrcc.com/give
Other ways you can help:
- Donate supplies at Christian Social Ministries at 122 East Parish Street, Statesboro, Georgia 30458.
- Building material donations are being accepted at Directline Ministries, 218 Stockyard Road, Statesboro, GA Call Paul Deem first to schedule a time to deliver at 740-350-4515.
After visiting Grand Bahama Island and meeting with their families and touring the devastation, it is obvious that many of these students may need our help into next year. The students, their families and the entire Bahama’s are grateful for our support and help. Together we will continue to make a difference for these students and their families.