By Emma Pastis
The First Academy
Just a few short months ago, my family and some friends had the opportunity to take a mission trip with Champs Missions to Freeport, Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian was recorded as the strongest hurricane to have ever hit the Bahamas, and after all of the devastation this country had suffered, many areas of the Bahamas were left in shambles, especially Freeport. When our group of 26 people arrived, the devastation in this place became obvious.
We had two main tasks to accomplish at our time on the island. One of these tasks was a roofing project on a community preschool building. The roof of the preschool had been totally destroyed as well as the area surrounding it. The second main task was to repair the damage done to the Grand Bahama Children’s Home. Most of the work I did throughout the week was done here.
The Grand Bahama Children’s Home is a place for children to live who are unable to be raised in their own homes with their families. These homes encountered so much devastation that the children and staff had to evacuate in the middle of the storm to a shelter because the waters from the storm rose around them and into their rooms.
The 32 children residing here had lost so much. This all became evident to us the first day we arrived at the Grand Bahama Children’s Home to begin working. There were remains from the storm scattered across the ground, including everything from furniture to children’s toys. We helped pick up and collect remains, as well as painted the houses in which the children living there now are staying. We were even able to form a relationship with the head of GBCH, and our group hopes to return sometime soon, hopefully when the children have returned.
On our last day on the island, our group got in the van and went down to the East End of the city, which was an area that suffered the most damage. Driving by all the houses and seeing how much this area had been affected was hard to watch, but it really changed all of our perspectives. Seeing how all of the houses were in ruins and had been destroyed entirely changed my perspective on a lot of things in life, and I was reminded to not take things like shelter and community for granted.
My family’s favorite part of the trip was getting to know the people we encountered living in the area; we learned many things from them. Each person we spoke to had a sense of hope for how one day they would successfully rebuild, which inspired me.
This trip was so amazing, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go on it and learn and experience so much. I look forward to the day that I will be able to return to this beautiful place and be back in this hopeful community.