15 March 2018
Rebuilding for the future
Six months after hurricanes caused devastation in the Caribbean, many children still face daily challenges.
When hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the Caribbean in September 2017, millions of children were affected, with thousands evacuated from their homes and many more losing access to basic services such as safe water and sanitation, education, health and electricity. UNICEF and its partners are working to help children, and those who care for them, get back on their feet.
In Anguilla, students attend classes in a temporary tent while their school, which was destroyed by Hurricane Irma, is rebuilt. As of January 2018, all school-aged children on the island are back in school, but nearly 40 per cent of the population remains without electricity.
Many children impacted by the hurricanes have been deeply traumatised by their experience. UNICEF’s Return to Happiness programme helps children to work through their trauma using play, writing, drama and poetry. Nearly 1,475 girls and boys in Anguilla have benefitted from the programme.
Six months after the hurricanes, almost 200 children still live shelters, including these children from Barbuda, who along with many Barbudans, resettled in Antigua. UNICEF works to ensure that children in shelters, who are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, are adequately protected.
In Dominica, the restoration of basic services such as electricity is progressing more slowly than in other affected countries and territories, and nearly 500 people remain in shelters. Despite the challenges, for these girls playing on the banks of a river still brings joy.
“I like to see my nature island returning,” says 11-year-old Mervel, who lives in Wotton Waven, Dominica, “I see a bright future because I get to go back to school and learn. I love that we are recovering from [Hurricane] Maria”.