Red Cross Staff Deploys to Bahamas

Topics: Manitoba, Worldwide, Emergencies and Disasters Worldwide
Michelle Palansky | April 16, 2020

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Andrew Johnson is an Indigenous Community Relations Officer with the Canadian Red Cross. That’s his day job. But at the end of 2019, Andrew spent a month in the Bahamas as a cash voucher assistance delegate.

In August 2019, Hurricane Dorian destroyed several Bahamian islands, leaving thousands of residents vulnerable and in need of assistance. Working as part of a team, Johnson’s job was to identify over 2,500 families and deliver unconditional cash assistance to aid in their recovery.

He saw the scope of the devastation. Not a single structure was unaffected. Shipping containers were flipped into the forest, concrete walls were crumbled to rubble.

“I learned that it’s impossible to understand the devastation of a hurricane unless you see it with you own eyes. I learned that in true humanitarian disasters, it’s awesome to see people come together and work to help people, and I learned that it’s amazing to see how resilient people are even when they have lost everything, including loved ones,” said Johnson.

With every deployment comes both sacrifice and reward. Johnson had to be away from his wife and children. While he struggled with long hours and challenging conditions, his children went through a bout of both strep throat and lice. He was able to stay in contact via the internet and returning home right before Christmas made for a particularly sweet homecoming.

Johnson would deploy again. “It was an excellent experience, difficult but excellent. I met a lot of people who were amazing in their knowledge and abilities.”