Dear Friends of The Coco Point
We want to update you on the state of Barbuda and the work that the CPF (and others) are doing to help rebuild the island. To date, the Coco Point Fund has spent approximately $350,000.00 and has an additional $300,000.00 spend in the planning stages. We never realized how complicated and difficult it would be to do good! That being said, we are making significant progress.
Who is on the island and what they are focused on:
NODS – The Antigua and Barbuda National Office of Disaster Services– This is the lead organization that is in charge of the coordination of all rebuilding activities. All work done by all of the other “public” relief organizations must go through NODS. They also provide limited amounts of supplies and construction workers (from Antigua) for roof rebuilding. It is important to understand that the
only work being done by NODS and others on homes is to replace roofs or homes categorized as 1 or 2 on a categorization scale of 1 to 4.
1= minimal damage
2= more damage but repairable 3= likely not repairable
4= totally destroyed-not repairable
NODS also restored power to a small area of Codington, but has not yet allowed power to everyone. Likewise, there is only one source of fresh water. Each household is only allowed 20 liters of water per day despite family size. The water comes from a very modest desalinization device in the town center.
Perhaps more significantly, getting approval from NODS to do work is very inefficient and takes about two to three weeks to get approval.
This organization is doing very good work fixing level 1 and 2 roofs. They are bringing in volunteer contractors from the U.S. to do this work. They utilize supplies from others before using their own. We may explore a partnership with them in the future.
UNDP – The United Nations Development Program
This organization is working on
Barbuda and all of the other islands destroyed by
Hurricane Irma. They supply workers and materials. However, after a recent board member visit, we found that they have run out of supplies. The UNDP also supplied tents for many residents. The tents remain all over the island with people still living in them.
Red Cross – Canadian and Antigua
The Red Cross has focused on getting some basic supplies for the hospital. These supplies are functional and useful, but the hospital is nowhere near where it needs to be. They have also distributed 500EC on a somewhat regular basis for basic support.
We have just learned that they are about to distribute vouchers for windows and doors. We will be sure to not give CPF’s windows and doors to those who are receiving vouchers from the Red Cross.
They are undertaking various projects such as restoring fishing and lobstering, providing food and clothing, and much more including periodically subsidizing the ferry to and from Barbuda for the residents.
Other Private Charitable Organizations:
Coco Point Fund – U.S. based
We have raised just over $1 million for support.
Jumby Bay Fund – Antigua based
They have raised about $2 million for support in Barbuda.
Mill Reef Fund – Antigua based
They have raised about $800,000.00 for support in Barbuda.
We have established excellent working relationships with both of these “equally committed” charities. We believe CPF has one distinct advantage in that we are
U.S. based and not “involved” in Antiguan politics. For example, both Jumby Bay and Mill Reef offered to rebuild the primary school and they were told “No, the government has someone else committed to this project”. However, there has been no action taken on rebuilding the school (and potentially limited action to
come). We will continue to communicate with these great charities and see
if there are more significant projects that make sense to do together?
What We Have Done So Far:
You should know that we have been extremely active for the last 6+ months. We hold board meetings at least once every 2 weeks to discuss all initiatives in progress. At first, we thought that we could just ship supplies down to the island and the repair work would get done. However, we realized that though the supplies were distributed, the people, for the most part, could not afford to pay to have the work done. Eventually, the work got done with the help of others. Just last week, we sent two large shipping containers full of more materials; half for homes and half to rebuild the Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC). We have also hired the best local contractor to do the work privately, away from NODS. One interesting fact: Our latest shipment includes 120 windows and 100 doors. Prior to our shipment, NO windows or doors were sent to the island. We will continue to do more projects in the future, including possibly rebuilding the homes of several vital teachers, the residence of the Head of Schools, and much more.
Early on, we accomplished many things. We gave $500.00 USD to every Coco Point employee before Christmas. We also funded a soccer and swim program for Barbudan children on Antigua, a program that continues to be very successful.
We have hired Bentham Lewis and Anne-Marie Gore to facilitate all of these efforts and properly account for all funds.
While Jumby Bay and Mill Reef both decided not to be in the construction business, we have realized that the greatest need on the island is qualified contractors to do the work. We are also exploring ideas about how to help those with category 3 and 4 homes. This has proven to be a difficult problem not just for us, but for all relief organizations.
The Antiguan Government:
As you all
hopefully know, the Prime Minister is planning to annul the Barbuda Land Act,
effectively taking away the Barbudan peoples’ communal land ownership. At this
time, we do not know how this will all play out. What we do know is that these
people DESPERATELY need our help. As such, we will continue to send materials
and help rebuild!
“Chicken or the Egg”
The biggest question is “when and how many people will eventually come back to the island?” Eighteen youngsters are currently in Nursery School (temporary headquarters) and a handful of primary school and high school children are in school at the high school (which was virtually unscathed). We believe that not everyone will come back. But when you talk with Barbudans on Antigua that want to go back, but cannot because there are no jobs, it truly breaks your heart.
This is the most challenging situation that we, as a board, have ever seen. We are committed to helping as long as we have money. In addition to helping, we are committed to assuring you, the donors, that the Antiguan Government and Coco Point Lodge never have access to any of our funds.
WE THANK YOU SO MUCH for your contributions. Given the state of the matter, we will eventually need more money to continue our efforts. We hope this letter gives you a better understanding of what is being done for our Barbudan friends.
Please contact Mike Smith, acting President of CPF, at [email protected] or other board members you may know if you have any questions about our efforts.
Thanks again for
your support! Please know that the Barbudan people desperately need our help.
“DOING GOOD WORK IS NEVER EASY”
Acting President, The Coco Point Fund