The COVID-19 Pandemic has left the world in a dangerous tailspin.
People around the world are losing jobs, closing businesses, running out of money and living with constant fear of never recovering from the economic and emotional toll, which the virus has taken on the world.
In The Bahamas, with businesses still closed and unemployment escalating, Bahamians are becoming anxious and afraid. According to the minister for National Insurance, NIB has been processing three times the number of benefits claims it receives in a typical year.
Financial experts say that the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic for The Bahamas will be “catastrophic.”
In Grand Bahama and Abaco, having just come through the worst hurricane ever to hit the Caribbean basin (Category 5 Hurricane Dorian) and now having to deal with COVID-19, the needs are already beyond what the Department of Social Services can handle.
In doing their part to assist Grand Bahamians in need, Reach Out Ministries has launched a “four-week give back,” which began on Thursday, April 16.
“There are too many people on this island hurting,” says Founder of Reach Out Ministries Dudley Seide. “People are losing jobs and many people have no idea where the rent or mortgage for next month will come from. Single mothers are struggling.
“You would be amazed to know how many people have to go on lockdown because of this virus, with no food in their house. In spite of the long lines at the food stores, there are still many people who cannot afford to go to the grocery store.”
Seide said that after coming out of weeks of prayer and fasting, the Lord impressed on his heart to do what he can to help. Thanks to his faithful sponsors and donors, Seide was able to secure some canned goods, essential items, toiletries and other items to give to the public.
On the first Thursday, the focus was on single mothers. He invited the first 200 single mothers to stop by Reach Out Center to collect necessary items, inclusive of food, canned goods, pampers, baby wipes and other toiletries.
Because the country is still in a state of social distancing, those receiving items were asked not to come out of their vehicles, but simply open their trunks and the volunteers would put in the supplies they need.
The line of cars through the corner of Banyan Lane, where Reach Out Ministries is located, stretched through the entire corner, as residents waited patiently for the giveaway to begin.
“We will give as long as we have the resources to give,” Seide said.
For the next three Thursdays, Seide said that their focus would be on supplying canned goods, hand towels, toilet tissue, food items and other toiletries to the general public. On the final Thursday of the “four-week giveback”, Reach Out Ministries will be feeding 1,000 people with cooked food.
“Because of social distancing protocols, it will not be a sit-down feeding, but individuals will have to come to the center, pick up a plate of food and then leave,” said Seide.
“On the fourth Thursday we will be serving hot, cooked meals to the Old Folks Home as well.
“I really want to thank all of the people who sponsor Reach Out year round. Companies like Fidelity Bank, R.H. Culmer, Ian Rolle and the Grand Bahama Port Authority, PharmaChem, FOCOL and others.
“All of these people understand our vision of giving back to our community. We would not be able to do this without the help of these people, these companies and others. We’re also encouraging residents when they go to the grocery store to pick up an extra canned item and drop it off to Reach Out Ministries, so that we can have more to give to the public.”
Seide said this is a difficult time for Grand Bahamians because of what the island has gone through over the years, including a number of major hurricanes and a struggling economy since 2004 and having to now deal with the fallout of COVID-19.
“This is our way of giving back to our community,” Seide added. “Reach Out has been there for a lot of tough times for this island and we want to continue to be there and assist our community.”
While the threat of the COVID-19 virus persists, Seide is urging Grand Bahamians to stay safe and follow the protocols being laid out by the government and the Ministry of Health. He said that he is still prayerful and hopeful for better things for Grand Bahama on the other side of this crisis.