The leadership demonstrated by Amber Hinkson and Naomi Cambridge in raising funds for the Hurricane Dorian Relief in 2019 was recognized today by Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Minnis.
Prime Minister Minnis personally thanked the 17-year-olds, as well as the head boys and girls of secondary schools in Barbados for everything they did to assist the hurricane-ravaged islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the Bahamas last year.
He praised the students during the 31st Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, which is being held in Barbados at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, from February 18 to 19.
Amber Hinkson of The Lodge School raised approximately BDS $3,500 when she organized a concert and donation drive at her school, while Naomi Cambridge of Queen’s College led sensitization appeals during morning assembly and collected over BDS $1,600 at the school.
Prime Minister Minnis said he was so impressed with the leadership, camaraderie and support shown by the students that he indicated it was his intention to ensure that Amber and Naomi’s efforts would be recognized throughout his island nation, especially within the schools of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
He recalled: “We all know September 1 of last year, the Bahamas was impacted by Hurricane Dorian with winds as high as 250 miles per hour and sea surge in excess of 20 feet.
“Two islands were totally devastated – Abaco and Abaco Cays, and Grand Bahama. Many students were dislodged, schools were destroyed, homes were destroyed and businesses were destroyed.”
He noted many students lost their belongings, including their uniforms, shoes, and books. He said the students were forced to move to New Providence and neighbouring islands to pursue their studies and advance their education.
The Bahamian Prime Minister stressed that the Barbadian students had recognized the importance and significance of education and expressed gratitude for their contribution.
“The students would have gotten together and accumulated large sums of monies that they sent back to the Bahamas to assist the Bahamian students in obtaining their school supplies and clothes and to assist their parents where necessary. These students have demonstrated complete leadership and support for our students in the Bahamas and it is essential to me as I return home, to inform not only the Bahamian nation, but all the schools in the Bahamas, especially those students from Abaco and Grand Bahama, that the students in Barbados had come together as one to demonstrate true leadership, true support, true camaraderie, true family, and they have come on board for us with all the resources that they could accumulate to assist our students in getting back together. I want to say to those students that we appreciate you all.
“Our chairman (Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley) spoke eloquently on the importance of leadership and family and that was clearly demonstrated. Be assured that their names (Amber Hinkson and Naomi Cambridge) will be rung throughout the Bahamas and all the schools throughout the Bahamas to show what students can do to support each other,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
Prime Minister Mottley applauded Prime Minister Minnis for thanking the students personally. She noted that such positive engagements with public officials could have a profound impact on the young minds and recalled that was the case for her when she had a similar encounter with a former President of the Caribbean Development Bank, William Demas, when she was 15.
“I want to thank the Prime Minister of the Bahamas for wanting to be able to thank these students personally. I know the impact that it had on me; I can only pray that encounter this morning will leave an indelible mark on your mind and that one day, instead of you watching us, we will be watching you at this table,” she said.
In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Naomi said she gave speeches during morning assembly to inform students about the destruction caused by the Category 5 hurricane. She also highlighted the purpose of the cause, then she and friends collected monetary donations during lunch and before students gathered daily for devotion.
“When we saw all of the devastation with Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, we couldn’t just sit idly by and not do anything. It just felt wrong. We know that the Bahamas is so close to us and they are like family to us in the whole CARICOM region, so we decided it would be best to try and see if we could do anything to help. We honestly didn’t think it would get this much publicity. We wanted to raise any money that we could in school and help as much as we could.
“It was extremely nerve racking, but I am honoured to have met both prime ministers. I didn’t expect to meet any of them, and they are really inspiring people. I was very, very grateful to experience that,” Naomi said.
Amber said she asked popular artistes in Barbados to volunteer their performance services at a fundraising concert she organized at The Lodge School. That initiative helped to create awareness among the students, who also made financial donations to the cause.
“I put myself and Barbados in their position, where that could have been us. It was a devastating thing that occurred, which also brought awareness to the students,” she said, adding that the highlight for her was hearing First Form students say what happened to the Bahamas could just as easily have happened to Barbados.
Students from the Frederick Smith Secondary School said they too felt grateful and privileged to be recognized. Their school conducted a clothing drive and collected monetary donations.
“Barbados is very lucky because we haven’t been hit by a large scale hurricane like the Bahamas, Dominica and Haiti, so we have to be thankful for that. But it also goes to show that where we are lucky, we should be able to give, support and help others,” Angenique Quintin said.