Ardastra Gardens Zoo and Conservation Centre is putting out the call for volunteers, partners and sponsors as it looks to offer children displaced by Dorian a much-needed reprieve. As young hurricane evacuees grapple with their new reality, Ardastra is doing what it can to inject some fun into their lives rolling out a special “edutainment” programme in the wake of the destructive passing of the deadly Category-5 hurricane.
“Given that Hurricane Dorian has so many far-reaching consequences that haven’t even come fully to light yet, I started to think of what they may be: employment, schooling, transportation, just a hand to guide each lost individual to what the next step may be and giving people hope and a distraction. I thought, ‘Why not offer the children a reprieve from their lost lives as they knew them?’” said Katherine Solomon, Ardastra’s director. As hurricane survivors traverse the long road to recovery, Ardastra wants to offer children a safe haven, if only for a few hours, providing them with some semblance of normalcy. “In the weeks ahead, we can offer students some distraction and while doing so, their parents could have time to do whatever they need to do, to begin to get the family back on their feet,” said Mrs Solomon.
On Monday, September 16, Ardastra launched its free retreat from 10 am to 2 pm, Monday to Sunday for children five to 14 years old. The event is designed for a maximum of 50 children. Although Ardastra will rely heavily on its staff and education officers from other environmental agencies, it’s going to need at least one teacher and volunteer for every 10 students. The goal is to run the retreat as long as it is needed while the Ministry of Education works to assimilate displaced students from Abaco and Grand Bahama into schools in New Providence.
Ardastra is banking on its unique setting – over 200 animals, representing 50 species – to bring children through these uncertain times, hopefully placing a few smiles on faces with arts and crafts projects and animal interactions. Not surprising, an undertaking of this magnitude will require some assistance. “We want to make this experience as easy as possible for hurricane survivors,” said Mrs Solomon. “To this end, we need transportation partners who are able to shuttle the children to and fro and we require food and drink partners so that we are able to offer free lunches.” Interested persons and companies are asked to contact Tishka Moss at 394-2146 or Tishka@ardastra.com