On August 27, Dominica was hit by tropical storm Erika. The storm flooded many Caribbean countries but its catastrophic effects were particularly felt by Dominica, a small Caribbean state.
The island’s communities were devastated, roads were washed out by floods and mudslides, homes were destroyed and many people lost their lives.
In the wake of the storm the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, sent out a plea for international help. In response, the Secretariat’s Caribbean community started a hurricane assistance appeal.
The result was a collection of supplies for Dominica’s schools, including 1,000 exercise books, 3,500 pencils and 2,000 pens among other items.
Joan Nwasike of the Public Sector Governance Unit at the Commonwealth Secretariat was the driving force behind the appeal: “The Commonwealth Caribbean community felt the impact of Hurricane Erika on the people of Dominica, especially the children and we couldn’t just sit here and do nothing.
“The donation of school supplies is the very least we could do, especially considering that the children of Dominica had just returned to school with their new books and stationery when the hurricane hit, destroying much of what they had bought for the new school year.”
The supplies were presented to Nakinda Daniel of the High Commission of Dominica at the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London. On accepting the supplies she said: “The Government of Dominica is extremely grateful for the continued support from the Commonwealth. The island of Dominica is resilient but the impact from Erika was devastating. Many of our schools were affected, but we are pleased to say that all our school children are now back in classrooms and we are hopeful that with yours and other partners’ support we can rise again.”
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj, who attended the presentation stated: “Tropical storm Erika demonstrates once again the vulnerability of small states. The Commonwealth stands in solidarity with the Government and people of Dominica and will continue to support them and provide practical assistance wherever possible.
“As we embark on the Sustainable Development Goals, it is important that the vulnerability of countries like Dominica be taken into consideration in determining both the amount and the terms and conditions of development financing”