Battling the Water Shortage on Barbuda

Imagine having to plan your shower or the cooking of your meals around when you may have running water. How can an island in the midst of rebuilding itself manage a construction project or clean up after a painting initiative without enough water? How can its residents keep up with daily chores? How can the economy thrive? How can the people’s health remain safe?

As with many places in the world, the Caribbean countries can suffer from prolonged droughts that can put a strain on the water supplies in their nation. Barbuda is no stranger to these pressures. With the added destructive effects from Hurricane Irma, which occurred almost two years ago, Barbudans are still struggling with access to consistent running water throughout their day. Very often, in order to deal with the shortage, a water rationing system means that running water is only available every two hours.

There are several reasons for this. The water system on Barbuda only has enough storage from the desalination plant for approximately 8,000 gallons. The system itself is also plagued with leaks that require repairs and replacement from the utility company.

In addition, the water quality is also very poor.

” Very often, in order to deal with the shortage, a water rationing system means that running water is only available every two hours.”

Craig Henderson, Coco Point Fund Board Member

Coco Point Fund, in conjunction with the Jumby Bay Fund, the Mill Reef Fund and the Discovery Land Company are working together towards a solution. The group is very close to putting a complete plan in place to build a concrete base, install a new tank, and repair or replace all the broken parts that support the system. The Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) is reviewing the proposal now and approval is imminent.

If you’d like to donate money to our organization to work alongside APUA to address the issue of the water shortage please visit our Donate Page today.

Photo Credit: Mohammid Walbrook

Feature Photo Credit: Water.org

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Congrats to Crystal on Graduating from Caribbean Nazarene College!

The Board was thrilled to receive the follow letter from Crystal Hopkins this week. Crystal received a scholarship from the William Cody Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship fund was created to help assist worthy Barbudan students with partial scholarships to colleges and universities around the world.  It was set up in order to provide educational opportunities for young residents of Barbuda wishing to pursue education beyond the level of education offered on Antigua and Barbuda and who intend to return to Barbuda following completion of their studies to give something back to their community.

Crystal has received her diploma from Caribbean Nazarene College with a degree in Early Childhood Education. We are so proud of you Crystal and excited to hear you will be contributing to the next generation! 

Letter from Crystal

William Cody Kelly Memorial Scholarship,

It is with a spirit of gladness that I express my gratitude towards the Board Members of the William Cody Kelly Memorial Scholarship Fund. I attended the Caribbean Nazarene College for 4 years to attain a Bachelor’s degree in General Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Care and Education and a minor in Psychology and Counseling. This journey did not only focus on academics because I was also given the opportunity to mature as a young adult. I also benefited by being exposed to different cultures, meeting persons from all over the Caribbean and also forming long lasting bonds of friendship. I graduated with a 3.6 GPA and cum laude honors. With sincere thanks, I am confident that I will make a solid contribution to the education department of Antigua and Barbuda. Thank you once again for assisting me in achieving one of my goals.

Yours respectfully,
Crystal Hopkins

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More Freshly Painted Homes from the House Painting Initiative

The Coco Point Fund initiated an island wide painting initiative last year and freshly painted homes are rolling in! These homes have taken advantage of the supplies provided likes like paint, brushes, rollers and paint sprayers.

Approximately 40 Barbuda residents wanted to participate in the first round. We encourage the continued use of the supplies and are pleased to show the latest results. The cheerful colors are bringing hope and happiness to the island and the pursuit of more rebuilding!

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Teach Trainer at the PreSchool

Teacher trainers arrived on the island this week from the US.  We were thrilled to have them consulting for a week to train the teachers in our newly renovated PreSchool.  The Coco Point Fund shipped lots of furniture and rugs and other materials to bring the nursery school up to modern educational standards. In addition, the teachers arrived with lots of laptops, tablets and supplies to help create a more robust curriculum.  The goal of the Coco Point Fund with this initiative is to improve educational outcomes for generations to come!  If this initiative is successful, we will likely commit to doing similar improvements to the holy trinity school.

The training has also highlighted how important the design of a classroom is to educational outcomes. In the previous space, the children were sitting at simple tables in a stark learning environment.  The addition of new rugs and chairs has created a vastly improved learning environment!  Teachers and students are much more focused on learning.  And modern teaching methods, such as differentiated learning, are now part of the learning process. 

Special thanks to MeTeor Education and Home Depot for being such GREAT partners of the Coco Point Fund!

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Daycare Center Completed

As word spread of our work on the preschool, the Coco Point Fund became more coordinated with all the other charitable funds and NGO’s working in Barbuda. In particular, we developed a strong working and economic partnership with three such funds; The Jumby Bay Fund,  Mill Reef Fund and Paradise Found’s Barbuda Relief Fund.

The Daycare Center had been badly damaged by Hurricane Irma. It’s second-story was totally destroyed. We set our sights on rebuilding this facility.  Thanks to a couple, who were long time Coco Point Lodge guests, we secured a lead donation. We then asked the three funds noted above to equally share in the cost of the reconstruction. Once again we turned to Griff Walker for help. In addition we worked with Chad Alexander, a Barbudan architect who received scholarship assistance from the Coco Point Fund. (Look for a future story on our blog about how the Coco Point Scholarship Fund helped Chad succeed and how he is now giving back to his fellow Barbudans!)

We contracted with Griff Walker in late June 2018 to rebuild only the first floor. Home Depot again supplied most of our building materials at very discounted prices. Work started on September 18, 2018 and the facility was completed in January 2019. The quality of the workmanship is outstanding. You will notice in the photos that we kept the exterior cement stairs to the second story so as to retain the option of rebuilding it in the future if a community need surfaces. In early February 2019 we had a small ceremony handing over the keys to the Barbuda Council. The furniture and learning materials are expected to arrive in late March. The before and after pictures reflect the completion of another on schedule and on budget project.

In the coming months we will post updates, photos and stories once the kids return.

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First Reveal in House Painting Initiative

In partnership with the Jumby Bay Fund and Mill Reef Fund, The Coco Point Fund initiated an island wide painting initiative. Collectively, we have supplied the paint, brushes, rollers and paint sprayers to approximately 40 Barbuda residents who wanted to participate in the first round. Connie was a longtime employee of Coco Point Lodge. She was part of the main dining room staff and loved by all of the guests. . She is enjoying the bright cheery red update to her home!


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2018 Year End Update

Dear Friends of the Coco Point Fund,

We know many of you would like an update on how things are going on Barbuda. Progress is being made on many fronts. During 2018 the Coco Point Fund rebuilt the Cody Kelly Preschool and the Daycare building, shipped thirteen 40 foot containers of building materials (mainly roofing material, doors and windows). We also funded a commitment to significantly improve the curriculum at the Preschool, which should be in place by February 2019. Year to date, the Fund received approximately $500,000 in donations and spent approximately $800,000 in direct aid on Barbuda. In addition, we continued funding our academic scholarship program through 2021.

There are a lot more details we could report on, but we will leave those for our soon to be revamped website, which we expect to have up and running in early January. We will send out an announcement and a link as soon as it is live.

In summary, I’m proud to report that the Coco Point fund board continues to steward your generous donations very effectively. We have stayed true to our commitment to provide 100% direct aid, with no funds being channeled through governmental agencies. That said, we need a lot more money if we are going to finish the job we started. We are working with a few other charitable funds over the next year to rebuild 80 homes which were totally destroyed or damaged beyond repair. We are also working on building in open air market, a new bank facility in Codrington and
possibly jump starting one or more new business ventures on Barbuda. We estimate the collective needs to exceed $4 million. We hope to provide at least $1 million of that aid over the next couple of years.

On behalf of our board, and the Barbudan people, I thank you again for your generous support, wish you a very happy holiday season and ask you again for your continued generous support so we together can help make the New Year happy and bright for all our good friends on Barbuda!

Sincerely,
Michael Smith

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William Cody Preschool Complete

Rebuilding the preschool was the fund’s first construction project. In order to attract back Barbudan families, who had been displaced by Hurricane Irma, and evacuated to Antigua, an operating school system was necessary. The high school was mostly intact and could function for both primary and secondary classes, while the Barbuda Council and Antiguan government addressed repairing the primary school. With the governments limited resources it was highly unlikely that they could address the preschool anytime soon. In early February 2018, members of our board met with contractors on Barbuda to review their proposals and references. We selected Griff Walker, Walker Construction, to be our general contractor for the rebuild. The historic building, which we believe was originally constructed around 1905, served as the main classroom. It suffered severe damage when it’s entire roof came off. As you can see in the before photograph the building’s walls are approximately 2 1/2 feet thick and made of limestone blocks. There was a kitchen attached to this main building, which the Coco Point fund built approximately 15 years ago, which also suffered significant damage. The adjacent five classroom building was also damaged and unusable.

While Griff’s crew attended to the demolition we were able to leverage our budding relationship with the Home Depot and get the needed building materials delivered quickly from Miami. We contracted with Griff in March 2018 and the project was completed in September 2018, on budget. A few weeks ago four members of our board visited the school and found 37 children and 6 teachers very happy in their newly refurbished school. The pictures of the smiling thankful children reflect the success of our first long-distance construction project.

In coming months we will post in this space stories about the history of our past involvement with the preschool, how the school came to be named William Cody Kelly Preschool, and the introduction and adoption of a new advanced curriculum coming very soon to the preschool.

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Spring Update 2018

Dear Friends of The Coco Point Fund:

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.

Samaritans Purse-

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.

Waitt Foundation

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 MSMITH3453@aol.com 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”

Sincerely,

Mike Smith
Acting President, The Coco Point Fund

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