At Virgin Unite and Unite BVI, we are focusing on three key pillars to help with the long term recovery of the BVI. These are: community - specifically on education; entrepreneurship and environment. With regards to education, we are committing funds for recovery assessments of schools in Tortola and Virgin Gorda, and the first school we’ve identified is Bregado Flax Educational Center (BFEC), a public elementary and high school in Virgin Gorda. We plan to help rebuild the roof that was ripped off in Irma.
I wanted to share an inspiring story from the school recently. Virgin Atlantic Captain Chris Hall told me how he sailed in the BVI last year and was planning on returning for another trip, but Hurricane Irma scuppered his plans. He said he was devastated when he saw the destruction the hurricane had wreaked on the islands and he said he knew he had to help.
Chris rallied a group together from Virgin Atlantic and decided to fly out as planned, but spend their time helping with the relief effort. He offered their help to Unite BVI, who tasked them with helping repair a school building on Virgin Gorda which had been badly damaged.
They were among the first visitors to the island since the hurricane. Chris told me how shocked they all were when they arrived and found so many homes and livelihoods devastated. He said it was a sobering sight seeing the destruction first hand and hearing the stories from the people who lived there.
The team spent the next week repairing the roof, repainting the walls and replacing the furniture. There was no electricity, water or accommodation so they slept on the floor of a warehouse on blow up beds.
It was lovely to meet the team and see the great work achieved. It’s a great testament of the Virgin spirit, which always shines through in troubled times.
It will take time for the BVI to get back on its feet but work is ongoing to help restore people’s homes, educations and businesses.
Lots of work is going on behind the scenes and we’ll keep you updated in the coming weeks and months. It’s so important that we rebuild a better, cleaner, stronger and more sustainable Caribbean region.