BMOTA Welcomes Visiting Volunteer Group to Grand Bahama
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, April 8, 2020 — Since the passing of Hurricane Dorian last September, Grand Bahama has received a stream of visitors eager to assist residents in need. The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA) welcomed a group of visitors to the island last month.
The delegation, comprising thirty students and chaperones, represented Seventh-day Adventist organizations from Atlanta Adventist Academy, Andrews University, Burman University, Parkview Adventist Academy and Tennessee Adventist Academy. The group also included representatives from the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, New England Conference, South Central Conference and Adventist-laymen's Services and Industries (ASI) Bahamas. During their four-day trip, the volunteers gave of their time and kindness to Grand Bahamians across the island. Their outreach efforts involved building repairs to Grand Bahama Academy and homes in Heritage, Pioneers Loop, Coral Reef, Holmes Rock, Yeoman Wood, and other neighborhoods.
The group also partnered with The Bahamas National Trust and Grand Bahama Port Authority’s Keep Grand Bahama Clean program to beautify one of the island’s most beloved attractions, Gold Rock Beach.
“There are many things that made my time on Grand Bahama special,” Andrews University student Joffre St. Hilaire said. “I enjoyed doing work that I had never done before, such as roofing, tiling, and putting in sheetrock for walls. I got to meet sweet, new people that I will forever be connected to, and I fulfilled the will of God for my life. Grand Bahama has etched a new line of love in my heart that will never disappear.”
Pastor Ted Deer, chaplain for Burman University and Parkview Adventist Academy, said the visit to Grand Bahama was a way to show support for Bahamian students who attend Burman.
“These are our students and friends who have become like family, so we wished to help and encourage,” he said. “The students absolutely loved the warm reception from the Bahamian people.”
Deer said that after attending a local church service during the visit, he held even greater respect for Grand Bahamians because of their resilience, joy and hope amid adversity.
On the final evening of the group’s trip, the Grand Bahama BMOTA office held a special dinner for the volunteers at Portobellos in the Grand Lucayan Hotel. The dinner served as a ‘thank you’ to the group for visiting and using the time to not only experience the island but connect with its people. Pastor E.D. Clarke and Pastor Andrew Burrows, president and secretary of the North Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists respectively, brought remarks at the event.
Their time on island might have been brief, but according to Karenda S. Swain, BMOTA manager of the Grand Bahama Development Department, the visit had positive and lasting advantages for all involved.
“The voluntourism program has proven to be beneficial to the destination,” Swain said. “Visitors who participate get to do some good for our residents and communities while enjoying all that we have to offer here on Grand Bahama. From a touristic perspective, the impact would be evident in various sectors, such as accommodations, transportation, food and beverage, and shopping. It is estimated that one stopover visitor spends a total of $1,230.00. So, we know a group of 30 spending four days on the island would contribute considerably to our economy.”
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Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation