Unite BVI’s COVID-19 response

Young child writing in school book
Image by Unite BVI
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
14 April 2020

In response to COVID-19 the incredible team at Unite BVI are helping communities across the British Virgin Islands (BVI) get through the pandemic. 

To assist in countering both the short and long-term impacts Unite BVI are working with partners to deliver home education and online activity programmes, expand their entrepreneurial support, and provide greatly needed risk mitigation and medical response supplies. 

“In this time of unprecedented anxiety, the health, education and safeguarding of dignity is essential for communities across the BVI. The team here at the Unite BVI foundation are honoured to be working alongside our community members and organisations to progress through this pandemic together,” said Sauda Smith, executive director of Unite BVI Foundation.

Delivering online education and youth programmes into homes across the territory

With all schools in the BVI closed as of March 19th, teachers and administrators require additional assistance in order to transition to 100 per cent online classrooms. To help meet this need, Unite BVI is coordinating teacher training, as well as expanding their Chromebook donations project to assist public high school students in need. These resources will ensure that education services can continue online and as uninterrupted as possible.

Kim Takeuchi, operations manager of Unite BVI, said: “During the recovery after the 2017 hurricanes we were fortunate to understand that a transition to on-line education was a key to a resilient future. Home education offers opportunities for collaborative learning solutions, interaction with global experts and multimedia resources to inspire how we define the classroom of tomorrow.” 

The shift to home-based education has also led to local youth programmes transitioning their programmes online. Unite BVI was proud to provide a grant to The Youth Empowerment Project to further expand and scale this online programming, with a diverse series of online resources and help keep kids engaged and productive – beyond academic support, these resources support creative expression through the arts and music, physical health through exercise as well as mental health resources. 

Unite BVI team members and volunteers helping to build back local community sites
Image from Unite BVI

Protecting BVI’s healthcare workers and vulnerable populations

With the support of generous donations Unite BVI has procured greatly needed health-related supplies for local communities – these supplies include over 2,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits for healthcare workers and medical response equipment needed to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Many of these supplies have already been procured and distributed, with more on the way to where they’re needed most.

When it comes to the provision of health services the team is especially focused on protecting the elderly. So far they have delivered increased support to the elderly home on Tortola and have offered support to the home on Virgin Gorda, PPE for home care workers and hygiene supplies have been purchased and distributed, along with oxygen masks and cylinders for those in need. 

Lauren Keil, foundation manager of Unite BVI, said: “One of the most important things we can do in response to this pandemic is to prioritize protecting the most vulnerable. The BVI’s older generation deserves to be remembered, valued and protected.”

The team has also provided a generator to The Adina Donovan Home for the Elderly, so that in the event of a power outage life-saving equipment can continue to operate, in addition to an extruder to circulate clean air. An isolation room has also been built with Unite BVI’s support.

Supporting entrepreneurs and the BVI economy

In response to the blows dealt to the tourism and service sectors, Unite BVI and their network of international entrepreneurs are expanding support programmes to mentor local entrepreneurs – teaching the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, along with how to navigate the transition to eCommerce and expand to a global marketplace.

The programmes will help entrepreneurs embrace the unique opportunities of the time and will support small business resilience and innovation. The entrepreneurial offerings also include digital lectures and access to an online catalogue of evergreen resources (including videos, templates, partnered resources, tutorials, and review lectures). 

“With many of our entrepreneurs still attempting to rebound from the hurricanes of 2017 we are committed to assisting in the creation of, and exposure to, long-term models for business continuity,” said Lauren Kiel.

If you can support Unite BVI and their work please donate to the foundation here. 100 per cent of all donations received go to initiatives we create or support.

Unite BVI is a not-for-profit foundation based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Formed in 2016 with the support of Virgin Unite and the Branson family, Unite BVI focuses on a range of community causes – from advocating for the environment, supporting local entrepreneurs, investing in education, to addressing public health and social welfare issues.