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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Patterson-Maura

Volunteerism: Bursary Students Make a Mark

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

Since Hurricane Dorian, On Da Beach Bar and Grill has offered an opportunity to students in Hope Town to apply for college scholarships. The bursary program supports community involvement and requires each applicant to serve a number of hours with several community organizations in order to become eligible to receive the funds. This summer, FRIENDS mentored several students, and we are grateful for their service! Students primarily focused on marine debris and invasive plant removal on turtle nesting beaches, however other volunteer projects were available, including research and community outreach.

To give you an idea of the impact of the program and the connection with FRIENDS' work and community outreach, we are highlighting Aaliyah Joseph and Ethan Adderley, two of the Bursary applicants.

Aaliyah Joseph

FRIENDS: Hi Aaliyah, thanks for being part of the program! Please tell us some more about yourself.

Aaliyah: Hi! My name is Aaliyah Joseph. I am 18 years old and currently living in Hope Town, Elbow Cay. I obtained my primary education at Hope Town Primary School. I attended

grades 7-9 at Agape Christian School. Due to Hurricane Dorian I relocated to South Carolina where I graduated from Wando Highschool in June 2021. This fall I will be attending the College of Charleston to obtain my Bachelors degree in medicine to eventually become a Pediatrician.

FRIENDS: Have you participated in FRIENDS programs before?

Aaliyah: Friends of the Environment has been a program that was instilled into me at a very young age. I can thank my amazing teacher Mrs. Amanda Higgs at Hope Town School for that! I have grown a fond fascination for the environment because of that. My favorite time of the year was the FRIENDS Science Fair. The Science Fair helped me learn so much about how we as humans are impacting not only the environment but our marine life also. I personally have learned so many amazing things like how a conch lip must develop before harvest, reasons for having a closed season for grouper, the negative impacts of lionfish on the marine environment, lobster regulations, the harmful effect of plastic on marine life such as turtles and so many more amazing things.

FRIENDS: That's awesome! We're happy to hear how much you learned and how much you enjoyed the science fair. What role do you see FRIENDS playing in your community?

Aaliyah: For as long as I can remember FRIENDS has always had a lasting impact on the community of Hope Town. Their outreach has become so large that on one of my beach clean ups I noticed that all the second homeowners had bins for guests to place their garbage in. I believe that there is still a lot of work to be done but the small steps have definitely made a difference within the community!

FRIENDS: In your observation, how did Hurricane Dorian impact our environment?

Aaliyah: Post Dorian the effect on our environment was profound. Many of the plants were uprooted from the ground, natural areas were destroyed, animal habitats scattered and a lot of debris washed into the ocean. Each and every individual has lent a hand in trying to bring the community back to what it once was from cleanups, to diving debris up from the ocean, recycling and finding more eco friendly solutions.

FRIENDS: It truly made a significant impact on our environment, our lives, and our future. How do you feel about your participation in the bursary program and the impact you have been able to make while volunteering?

Aaliyah: This year has definitely been an eye opening experience for me specifically on a beach clean up that Bessie, Ryan, Kyle, Mya, Summer and I conducted. This cleanup was on the beach behind St. James Methodist Church where we found a significant amount of small plastic, shoes, balloon strings, aluminum cans, and hygiene products. Many of the plastic pieces were believed to have come from water jugs that may have washed away from the hurricane. We then completed a data collection sheet that will be placed on the board in front of Hope Town School. I personally did a clean up where I went on the dunes and collected some invasive Hawaiian seagrape plants and a few pieces of debris. I am happy that I was able to participate in these cleanup efforts and I believe the beaches are healthier because of it.

L-R: Bessie Lowe, Mya Nutt, Aaliyah Joseph, Kyle Albury, Summer Aberle, and Ryan Knowles conducting a beach cleanup

Ethan Adderley

FRIENDS: Hi Ethan, please tell us some more about yourself.

Ethan: My name is Ethan Adderley. I was a student of Forest Heights Academy (FHA), but moved to Savannah Country Day School after Dorian and graduated from there. I am currently attending Appalachian State University with hopes of majoring in sustainable development.

Ethan with proud Mom, Sebrina.

FRIENDS: That's awesome! Sustainable development is so important for our islands and it's exciting to think about young Bahamians adding their perspective and passion to the cause. It's one of the things we hope to raise awareness of in our programs. Have you participated in any of FRIENDS' programs before?

Ethan: Yes, I participated in BAM (Bahamas Awareness of Mangroves) during my time at FHA and attended many summer camps learning much about the mangroves and reefs surrounding our home. I think FRIENDS holds a very important role in our community teaching younger generations about the importance of our environment.

FRIENDS: BAM is a great program that we hope to resume in the near future! We're happy to hear that our programs resonated with you. What are your thoughts about Abaco's environment and its role in the future of our community?

Representing The Bahamas at Appalachian State!

Ethan: Abaco's environment is important to the economy as well as everyday lives of those who live there as it provides for many residents.

FRIENDS: We agree whole-heartedly! We are so glad that students like yourself have the opportunity through the On Da Beach Bursary to support your education, so that you can bring your knowledge and experiences back to the community. Is there anything you'd like to share about your experience in the Bursary volunteer program?

Ethan: I participated in beach clean ups and delivered recycling bins to quite a few different areas on Elbow Cay. I was not very surprised at the types of debris we found on the beach such as nets, baskets and other items you'd expect to find on boats.

During summer break Ethan worked for his family's trucking company and was able to contribute some time towards debris removal and recycling projects.

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