UWI Open Campus Mobilises Hurricane Relief
Recovery and disaster relief efforts are well underway at the University of the West Indies Open Campus Country Sites in Dominica, Anguilla and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Site in Dominica was the hardest-hit with 90% of the physical facility severely damaged and a near total loss of equipment.
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Open Campus, Dr. Luz Longsworth joined the work teams in Dominica over the weekend to support the clean-up and rebuilding efforts, and to provide moral support to the staff and students who have been dislocated.
“We are thankful that there was no loss of life among our staff and students, but the needs are great and we are prioritizing and channeling our efforts into delivering support to where it is needed most”, said PVC Longsworth.
“Understandably, many of our students will have to defer their education, and we have teams on spot here in Dominica, Tortola and Anguilla to provide advice to our students on the way forward”, added Dr. Longsworth.
Although physical damage to the sites in Anguilla and the BVI has been minimal, normal operations will not resume until electricity and Internet access are restored to these countries and Dominica.
Dr. Longsworth pointed out that an Open Campus Relief Fund has been set up to raise funds to aid the recovery efforts in the three countries, as part of the UWI’s ‘Our Neighbour’s Keeper’ Response to the disaster in collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the CARICOM Heads of Government.
In making an appeal for support of the relief efforts, the Open Campus Principal commended the Heads and staff in the affected countries, and Dr. Cheryl McDonald-Sloley, the Coordinator of the Open Campus’ Hurricane Relief Committee for going above and beyond to secure the welfare of their students and the physical facilities of the Open Campus Sites.
Dr. Longsworth also acknowledged the efforts of Canadian businessman and site design consultant, Nick St. Georges, who initiated a Canadian GoFundMe account and arranged for the purchase and shipping of relief supplies to affected staff and students.
“As one region and One UWI we have joined hands and hearts to assist and respond rapidly to the growing humanitarian crisis in all our affected countries. For the Open Campus each one of these countries is home to us and to our students so we are trying to restore our homes, better and stronger than before. I appeal to you to assist our students and our staff, and by extension all the people of the affected countries through your generous donations. We may be down but we are NOT out. We will rebuild stronger!”, said PVC Longsworth.