Shock, anger, and helplessness are just some of the emotions Asiyah Robinson is struggling with as she starts a new semester of classes at the University of Victoria.
Between September 1st and 3rd, Robinson’s family was one of the many who lost their home and all of their possessions as Hurricane Dorian crashed down on the Bahamas.
Robinson herself was born and raised in Freeport, Grand Bahamas and moved to Victoria in 2014 to pursue an education at UVic. Her parents, older brother, and extended family currently live in Freeport.
Over the course of a few days, the Robinsons watched their family home – that took them nearly 6 years to build – get destroyed in the ruthless storm.
A daring rescue
“My dad was stranded [on] the roof of our destroyed home for the better part of 2 days without food, drinking water and sufficient clothing,” Robinson tells Victoria Buzz.
“My little brother, one of my old high school friends, and myself were emailing and calling trying to organize a rescue. The US Coast Guards had tried to [reach him the] day before but the water was too rough and high to get in that area.”
In the end, it was selfless Bahamians who used jet skis to reach Mr. Robinson and transport him to safety. But for over 12 hours, his family genuinely believed that he had succumbed to the storm.
Fortunately he has since recovered physically, but is suffering from significant mental anguish after having to watch their family dog drown.
In Victoria, Asiyah Robinson has been working tirelessly to gather funds for her family to rebuild their lives through a GoFundMe campaign.
Fellow Victorians, UVic administrators, and Muslim community members have reached out to offer words of comfort and assistance, but Robinson says most people here do not understand the scope of the disaster.
“In three days, my entire home was destroyed, my family devastated, my people crushed, and not many people in Victoria, outside of those on my social media, knew or understood the humanitarian crisis my Bahamians are in,” she says.
“That shocked me. I don’t have family in Victoria, so I just sat at home in my room on the phone with my brothers as we provided comfort for each other and waited for any kind of update about our parents and our people.”
Through tears, she writes to us of her desire to return home and be with her family during this difficult time, but believes her presence in Freeport would be futile.
“I want to go home, but what can I do there but be one more person without access to food and water? How can I help my people? I can’t right now. Not from home. So I will do what I can from Victoria, no matter how helpless I feel,” says Robinson.
For now, she has returned to her class at UVic while continuing fundraising efforts alongside her siblings and community in Victoria.
The family hopes to raise up to $110,000 to help rebuild their home. At the time of publication, they have garnered $8,290. Click here to contribute to the fund.
“We all feel the pain”
As authorities examine the situation in the Bahamas in the week following Hurricane Dorian’s landfall, some reports estimate the death toll to be at least as high as 50.
UN estimates state that thousands of people are still missing after the Category 5 storm, and 76,000 people are believed to be homeless and in need of assistance.
“There isn’t a person in Abaco or Grand Bahama that isn’t affected. We are such a small
community that you are either related to or friends with everyone on our islands,” says Robinson.
“We have all sustained damages. Almost all of us have lost our homes. Some have lost loved ones. We are all Bahamians. We all feel the pain.”
On that note, Robinson encourages everyone to attend a Bahamas Relief Fundraiser event happening on Sunday, September 15th.
Planned by Robinson, Parker Johnson, and Natan and Danya Smith, this event will use all donations to support the affected communities in Abaco and Grand Bahama.
- When: Sunday, September 15th, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
- Where: Kwench, 843 Fort Street