Hurricane ravaged schools in Long Island benefited from the community service of The Domestic Tourist and a group of island hoppers this Majority Rule Holiday, as the crew travelled to the island for a weekend of giving back.
The travellers donated their time to paint lunch benches at Mooresville Primary School in south Long Island and the exterior walls at Simms Primary School in the north, jobs which would have cost the cash strapped schools hundreds of dollars. Morrisville was the last school to open in Long Island after Hurricane Joaquin. Both schools suffered major water damage and lost electronics and other school supplies. The entire computer lab at Morrisville was wiped out.
“Harambee is an East African (Swahili) call to action; it is a rallying cry for the community to pull together. We use the call to action to rally the children of The Indaba Project, a community based organisation I am a part of,” said Noelle Khalila, owner of The Domestic Tourist, an innovative publishing and marketing lifestyle company dedicated to promoting travel throughout the Islands of The Bahamas.
The company kicked off its 2016 season of travel by introducing the first in a series of all-inclusive thematic trips planned for this year. The Domestic Tourist Harambee Weekend combines community service with island adventure. In addition to working at the schools, the group explored Long Island, visiting Hamilton’s Cave, Columbus Harbour and Turtle Creek and Dean’s Blue Hole, bringing much needed economic activity to the island.
“I was inspired by the work we do at The Indaba Project and decided to launch the inaugural Domestic Tourist Harambee Weekend, which is all about pulling together and travelling with a purpose. Every year we invite seasoned and aspiring island hoppers to join us on the Majority Rule Holiday for a weekend of giving back,” said Noelle Khalila.
“I chose Long Island for our first year because this is where the idea of The Domestic Tourist was birthed. In 2009 I came to Long Island to embark on a healing journey and it was here that I fell in love with the spirit of the people, the beauty of the island and the healing power of nature. I wanted to come back and give back to an island that has given me so much,”she said.
“Plus, we all saw the horrific images and heard the stories coming from Long Island, Crooked Island, Acklins and the other southern islands. I wanted to be a part of the rebuilding process; offer direct assistance to those communities and create a way for others to join.”
The group reached out to the schools and they were happy to host us. Ms. Suzan Cartwright, Principal at Morrisville Primary, gave the travelers a tour of the campus and shared stories about the students impacted by the storm. She also explained how the administrative building was converted into temporary housing for two families who lost their homes. “When Noelle reached out to me I was very happy to hear that she and her team were eager to offer their assistance to our school. It is very difficult to find persons to paint at this time but a little goes a long way and it meant so much to us,” said Ms. Cartwright. Today, the school is still in need of several items, including: a water cooler, printer, computers, teaching and motivational charts, area rugs for reading corners, staplers, laminating machine, colored printer paper, LCD project and DVD player.
Head Girl Knia Adderley and Principal Ms. Gretchen Rolle also joined the group at Simms Primary School in painting the school. “We are so grateful to the entire team for coming to Simms and donating their time and energy to assist us with painting several buildings at the school. There are still a few repairs to be completed but every helpful hand counts,” said Ms. Rolle.
“We hope our Harambee Weekend provides inspiration for others to want to travel to the Family Islands, and perhaps have their own harambee weekends. We offer a travel concierge service and are always available to assist anyone interested in island hopping. We also hope to inspire fellow travel enthusiasts to travel with a purpose that will not only benefit communities but will also inspire every individual to live a purposeful life,” said Noelle Khalila.