When Hurricane Maria swept across Dominica in September, 2017, it left 90% of school buildings damaged or destroyed and a huge amount of supplies and materials lost. To help rebuild the system and ensure greater disaster preparedness in the face of this year’s coming hurricane season and beyond, the European Commission has provided UNICEF, working with the Government of Dominica and IsraAID, with finical resources to support the education sector across all 73 schools.

“We’ve been getting information about how to keep my school, my home and my environment safe and teaching other people about safety before, during and after hurricanes.” – Esther Dennis

This includes the provision of classroom furniture, textbooks, libraries and reading materials. Teachers are also being equipped to train students in how to get ready before the next hurricane season their disaster preparedness school plans. The students’ trainings began this week in most primary and secondary schools island-wide.

Here’s 15-year-old Esther Dennis from North East Comprehensive School in Wesley talk about how the training has been going so far.

“We’ve been getting information about how to keep my school, my home and my environment safe and teaching other people about safety before, during and after hurricanes. What would I do differently now? I would try to store away more things and be more prepared because Maria took us by surprise so we didn’t have much time for preparations. We did as much as we could but it wasn’t enough. It was just sad. God knows, we don’t want another hurricane like Maria as we can’t handle that.

We’ve been back at school since October and it’s better. In terms of education, quite a few children are focused now. We are a bit more settled. When we came back we were uneasy. Everybody was relating their experiences and sharing emotions with each other. And it was a bit stressful but now everything is better.

We would like to thank UNICEF, the Government of Dominica and the European Union for funding us and supporting us with their desks, chairs and the rebuilt classrooms. And for giving us a sense of belonging. We are really grateful for this kind gesture. It shows people care about us.”

This post was originally published on UNICEF Eastern Caribbean’s Facebook page.

 

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