How a 13-year-old started her own school

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Published on 21 September 2017

Among the misery and devastation caused by the hurricanes in the British Virgin Islands, there have been sparks of hope. These have come in many forms from people near and far. It has shown itself in the teamwork and camaraderie of those working to repair the BVI. In the humanity of those giving to the communities of the BVI from elsewhere. In the incredible spirit of our wonderful team here. In the endless optimism and resilience of people refusing to be bowed by this tragedy. 

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I wanted to share just one example that really stood out to Sam and I. We were on Virgin Gorda helping to mobilise and distribute aid to people in desperate need. Food and water were scarce, power was down, houses were completely destroyed, vegetation was gone. Reopening schools to educate children was not at the top of the list of urgent needs for survival.

But one young girl didn’t see it this way. She decided to take matters into her own hands. She was 13-years-old, and decided it was time she founded her own school. She told us she would have set it up under the shade of a tree – but there weren’t any trees left. Instead, she set it up under the shade of a bit of wall that hadn’t fallen down.

People standing in a line on a dock, passing supplies from a boat
Image from Virgin.com

She gathered around half a dozen other children, and she began to teach them what she had learned. Founder, headmistress, teacher, student – and barely a teenager. Sam and I felt moved by her ingenuity, her resoluteness and her creativity – all skills we are going to need in abundance as we rebuild the BVI.

The local community may have lost their houses, their possessions, their country’s infrastructure, and much else besides. But their spirit is stronger than ever. The BVI and its wonderful people will recover stronger than before, and we’ll be here to help every step of the way.