On Monday the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) along with local and international donors, presented office equipment to the Wesley High School and the Combined Taxi Association to assist with the resumption of business operations following damage caused by Hurricane Maria.
While still coping with a myriad of obstacles of its own the DHTA lobbied on behalf of members and other private sector organisations to procure much needed resources to facilitate business continuity, noting that each stakeholder makes a valuable contribution to Dominica’s tourism product.
“Although we may not be able to tangibly assist all industry participants, we are aggressively pursuing their interests and checking in with them and their issues on a regular basis to spot opportunities to help and connect businesses and solutions,” DHTA Executive Vice President, Kevin A. Francis said.
With the assistance of long time visitor and hiker, New York Native, Ivy Raff, the association was able to donate two projectors to the Wesley High School to assist with improving classroom delivery methods. One of the teachers, Mistral Bernabe-Riviere, responsible for Spanish, History and Electronic Document Preparation and Management (EDPM) described the contribution as “godsent”.
Immediately after the hurricane the school was severely damaged due to vandalism and the institution was left handicapped trying to complete curriculums with depleting resources. According to Bernabe- Riviere it was particularly challenging to teach subjects like EDPM without the necessary tools.
“I was lost,” she started, “because after Maria we lost a lot of equipment. I usually use the lab especially for EDPM. Now, they [students] cannot use [the lab] for practice, when they go home they have no electricity, they have no devices, so the only way they can learn to do practicals is if they can see it for themselves – I needed a visual aid; so, the projectors are going to help a lot.”
Acting Principal, Hilarion Akpa shared similar sentiments. “Mr Francis is concerned with the education of our children, so we are very, very happy to have them with us. We had one projector for the two schools but now we have three – we are very, very pleased – we can leave one down there [junior section] and keep the two others here [ senior section] we cannot be happier than that.”
The Combined Taxi Association having lost all its office equipment and some human resource, was in dire need of computers for business operation. The DHTA was able to present two computers to the association again with a donation from Raff as well as Jolly’s Pharmacy.
“The computers will help us tremendously to assist us with getting the office back together. I really want to thank the agencies that made the computers available to DHTA for the Combined Taxi Association. It’s a great gesture,” President of the Combined Taxi Association, Philiip Guiste stated.
Guiste went on to explain that with the computers the association can resume collecting fees, taxi drivers will have a means to lodge complaints and concerns and it puts the association in a much better position to deliver services to tourists at the port.
Francis said: “Combine Taxi Association plays a vital role in the delivery of our tourism product. There is no doubt that their continued operation is for the benefit of the entire industry. We have also extended our offices as a temporary work space while they reassemble their membership strength. This is a win for the tourism industry.”
For Raff, the donations are akin to giving back to family. After her first visit in 2014, she returned for months at a time forming an inseparable bond with the island. Thinking of people living with the trauma of the storm, with little resources, was unbearable,” she began, “With my small contribution, I hoped to restore a tiny piece of normalcy to school children and the transportation workers who help Dominicans go where they need to go.”