Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, Gordon “Butch” Stewart today announced that he is giving a personal donation of EC$150,000 to assist the children of the island of Barbuda. Mr Stewart’s donation will be made to the Sandals Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Sandals group, which will work with the Ministry of Education in Antigua & Barbuda to directly assist Barbudan students who were evacuated due to the devastating effect of Hurricane Irma.
“We are a Caribbean company and these are our people. These children, along with their families, have been tremendously affected. We have to inspire hope in all those who have endured so much this past week,” shared Stewart, whose first Sandals resort outside of Jamaica was on Barbuda’s sister island of Antigua 25 years ago. “As Caribbean neighbors we must do all we can to let them know we are here to support them in rebuilding their lives.”
Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke, explained that with this donation the immediate priority is to provide the school uniforms and supplies that Barbudan students will need to start school as soon as possible in their sister island of Antigua. Once a full assessment of the situation in Barbuda is complete, the Foundation will then work with the Ministry of Education to address long term needs such as assisting with school rebuilding projects on the island.
“Having just returned from a survey trip to these hurricane-ravaged islands, I can confirm first-hand that the destruction is unimaginable,” said Clarke. “This extremely generous donation by our Sandals Resorts Chairman will effectively jumpstart the recovery efforts. We invite others to join us in the immense relief and recovery operation that lies ahead.”
Since Monday of this week, the Sandals Foundation has been providing first response relief of food to those housed in shelters in Turks & Caicos while simultaneously promoting its international online fundraising drive through its website (sandalsfoundation.org) to collect donations for ongoing disaster relief work in Turks & Caicos, Antigua & Barbuda and the Bahamas.
Launched in March 2009, the Sandals Foundation was established to continue the philanthropic work of Sandals Resorts International that began over three decades ago. The Foundation mainly focuses on education, marine conservation and community empowerment, however in recent years it has responded to several disasters in the Caribbean with multiple first response relief programs and several redevelopment projects including on the islands of Haiti, Bahamas, Dominica and Saint Lucia. After both earthquake and hurricane destruction in Haiti, the Sandals Foundation supported various partners including Population Services with 205,000 Aqua Tabs; Global Orphan with clothing; the Salesian Missions with recovery kits for 400 families; and All Hands Volunteers with the recovery of six schools and health clinics. Other projects include: the restoration of the Cancer Society Centre, Senior Citizen Centre and St. Andrew’s Kirk Elderly Home in the Bahamas following the passage of Hurricane Matthew in 2016; the construction of a new Multipurpose Room at the Petite Savanne Primary School in Dominica; and the provision of school supplies to children in Saint Lucia.