Monday, November 4, 2019

Friends of the Environment - Moving Forward with Hope

November 2019 and Hopeful...
Hi Friends,

Dorian has finally left our shores, but its effects remain. While the tasks ahead of our island community are daunting, amidst the challenges of getting by in daily life we are positive that the resilience of our residents and the support of our networks will see us through. In the middle of it all, we can not forget our environment - the jewel that supports our economy and way of life. These next stages of cleaning, rebuilding, and restoration are key. We choose to see the silver lining in the opportunity we've been given to incorporate more sustainable development practices in the future of Abaco.

FRIENDS will be doing a lot of planning in the near future, and we will keep you posted along the way. Along with plans for rebuilding our offices, our work plan and environmental education curriculum will be revisited so as to adapt to the changing needs of the environment in Abaco.

The generosity and opportunities are abounding. We are grateful for all of you, our FRIENDS' family, for reaching out with concern and support. Because of you we are committed, we will rebuild and we will be stronger.

Thank you for helping us get through, it's because of you that we are hopeful.

All the best,

Despite Dorian, and because of, FRIENDS has acquired many new partners. We have met some amazing people doing good for our communities and environment through it all, and would like to take this opportunity to highlight them and their work.
NGO's lending support

Since our last email, the relief group Samaritan's Purse has become resident at the Kenyon Centre, while they assist with the restoration of nearby communities. They have followed up on the great work done by Team Rubicon and will continue helping with cleaning the site and repairs at the Centre, including most recently mucking out our office to make it accessible to salvage what we can. Once we were able to begin salvaging, we had help from All Hands and Hearts, another NGO on the ground, who were essential in helping us secure our snorkel gear. We are extremely grateful for them, and ALL the relief groups who have given tirelessly to our island.

The above photo is of a snake that the Samaritans Purse team freed from the bent metal roof beam. They also swept out many frogs although there were still a lot of tadpoles swimming in the rain filled bins of snorkel gear (that have since been cleaned and saved)

YachtAid Global

FRIENDS has partnered with YachtAid Global (YAG), a California based nonprofit organization dedicated to disaster relief, conservation, and humanitarian work. In response to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts in Abaco, YAG has donated essential supplies to Abaco schools that are currently operational, in Sandy Point, Cherokee, Crossing Rocks, and Green Turtle Cay. FRIENDS along with our partners from the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization (BMMRO) helped facilitate this connection with teachers from these schools. We, alongside members of YAG team, delivered the supplies that arrived on a yacht into South Abaco. The supplies included iPads, laptops, craft materials, projectors and more. Our staff was very happy to connect with some students from summer camp during these visits who were thrilled to receive these supplies for their school year. Thank you YachtAid Global for investing in the children of Abaco!
Members of YachtAid Global, FRIENDS, and BMMRO delivering school supplies to J.A. Pinder Primary School in Sandy Point.


SeaLegacy is a nonprofit organization co-founded by Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen in 2014. Their mission is to create healthy and abundant oceans for us as humans and for the planet. Mittermeier is a pioneer of the modern conservation photography movement and Nicklen is a renowned National Geographic polar photographer. Recently, their team visited Abaco to document the devastation of Hurricane Dorian socially and environmentally. They visited several communities including Marsh Harbour, Man-O-War and Hope Town where they had the opportunity to interview locals about their hurricane experience, as well as visit key ecosystems around Abaco such as coral reefs and mangroves. I'm sure their story will be empowering for the future of Abaco; post Dorian. As quoted by Cristina Mittermeier "Hope is empowerment, Hope is a solution, Hope is a game- changer." We have been inspired by our brief encounter with this powerful team, as they have reinforced hopefulness into the future of FRIENDS!

Shortly before Dorian hit, The Perry Institute for Marine Science and its partners had surveyed reefs across Grand Bahama and Abaco to assess their health. Following Dorian, they were able to come back and reassess these areas from the impacts of the hurricane. Over the 370 miles that the surveys covered, minimal damage was found on the majority of reefs. Unfortunately Mermaid Reef, where FRIENDS does most of our educational field trips, sustained extensive damage due to debris from its close proximity to the shoreline. We are looking into how we can help with logistics to get the debris removed, and hopefully the recovery will begin soon.

The scientists were also able to visit four of the Reef Rescue Network's coral nurseries and assess out-planted corals in national parks in both Grand Bahama and Abaco. The great news is that all of the corals on these nurseries survived the storm and will be used to support reef restoration. Also from the surveys, it appears that our offshore reefs around Abaco sustained minimal damage, including Sandy Cay Reef in Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, pictured below. This gives us hope for the recovery of our oceans post-Dorian and proves how resilient these amazing ecosystems are.

The Perry Institute will be releasing a full report of all the findings from these surveys in the near future. We will continue to update on this as well as the progress of Mermaid Reef.
(Above) Stunning Elkhorn coral standing strong at Sandy Cay Reef in Pelican Shores Post-Dorian.

Many of you have reached out to ask how you can help FRIENDS get back on its feet. We are so appreciative of your concern and willingness to help! We are again able to take credit card donations through our website, and we have also put together several approved donation avenues below. Please feel free to pass them on to your networks. We will continue to keep you updated on our progress and plans for the future.
PERC, standing for "Preservation, Environment, Restoration, Community" is a registered 501 (c) 3 organization. US donations over $250 are tax deductible. FRIENDS is an approved recipient through PERC; they are long standing partners that have been important to our progress. Please click the link below to visit their site for more info on how to donate.
Go Fund Me
Some of our research and outreach partners have kindly created a Go Fund Me campaign for us, with our permission. All funds donated through the page will go directly to FRIENDS at the close of the campaign.
Art Auction
Bahamian artist Dyah Neilson has graciously donated one of her beautiful works titled "Abundance" to FRIENDS. It is a 30x40 in. acrylic piece on stretched canvas (unframed). We will be starting an online auction through Facebook in November. If you don't have access to Facebook, please let us know and we can help you bid.