In September 2017 Hurricane Maria devastated many of the Caribbean Islands, straight after Hurricane Irma had hit. In particular, Dominica suffered irreparable damage and most of the island was left without power and running water, thereby encouraging the spread of disease.
Just two months earlier, we had been in Dominica with Operation Wallacea on a Biology-based field trip to the rainforest and coast to aid research into marine and wildlife conservation (samples of which are displayed from October in the Natural History Museum in London). We gathered a vast amount of scientific data from the rainforest and the ocean and enjoyed the beautiful, unforgettable scenery that had now been left in ruins and covered in debris.
We decided the most profitable, fun-filled and informative fundraiser event would be a chocolate tombola: if you didn’t win a prize, you won an informative poster on Operation Wallacea trips that could be run in the future instead! The chocolate tombola ran very smoothly, raising awareness about the devastation but also about how amazing the country is and that it really did deserve our help.
After fundraising at three separate events we managed to make a grand total of £250. This money will have an impact on many individuals’ lives, starting with the ones that welcomed us during our stay. They looked after us so it is only fair that we look after them in a time of need. Whilst over there, we got to know many locals, in particular Ronnie, a fruit stall owner. We used to stop at his stall and taste the exotic fruit he had on display, from pink bananas that tasted of strawberry to bread fruit that is perfect with a pinch of salt. When we left the island, we made sure to take some of his spiced coconut with us, which is still one of the best things I have ever tasted. Unfortunately, Ronnie’s shop was made out of bamboo and was destroyed during the hurricanes. We received many pictures by email and, whilst Ronnie is safe and well, his shop and livelihood were destroyed. Since we had all made friends with him and got to know him during our trip, it really hit home how damaging these hurricanes were to the country and, most importantly, to the people in it.
Thank you to the everyone who donated money to this worthwhile cause, to Miss Ashton who helped with the organisation of the fundraising and to Esme Pearse, Zoe Smith, Ben Dawes and Ellie Clayton who manned stalls and helped spread awareness and raise money. Without them and the support of CRGS staff, this fundraising could not have gone ahead.