Colihaut, Dominica | Royston Philbert/IAD Staff

The Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) in Dominica is leading the rebuilding efforts after hundreds of families were left homeless by Tropical Storm Erika last August. Teams of church member volunteers from across the U.S. Virgin Islands and nine neighboring islands have been traveling since last month for one-week assignments to assist in the nation’s rebuilding efforts.

Local ADRA Project Coordinator Priscilla Prevost said that ADRA is presently in the foundation phase of the project. So far ADRA and volunteers have begun the construction of three three-bedroom homes and five two-bedroom homes, explained Prevost.

Church leaders visit a team of ADRA volunteers in Dominica earlier this month.

“ADRA is making good on its promise to assist the government with housing for the displaced,” said Prevost.

Two teams of 50 volunteers are helping in the project, said Prevost. ADRA expects to complete the first three homes in April and five more by July. “The government is providing the land and infrastructure and ADRA is providing labor and funds,” added Prevost.

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and the Ministerial subcommittee for Resettlement visited ADRA’s volunteers at the construction site of Plat Ma Pierre, in Colihaut, on Jan. 29 2016, and thanked them for their time and commitment in helping rebuild the community.

Days after the aftermath of Erika, ADRA provided meals to dozens of people in two shelters and began discussions with the government of Dominica to assist in building homes for persons who lost everything in the storm.

Prevost reports that there are 373 families across the island still affected by the flooding and destruction Erika left on its trail.

In expressing support for the volunteer mission, Pastor Silton Browne, the president of the church in the North Caribbean Conference, affirmed that as Christians, church members must become the helping hands of family members who care. “Our heartfelt prayers and concerns are with the people of Dominica still suffering the effects of this devastating storm. Because we know Jesus loves us, we must let them know that His love compels us to help.”

Immediately after the storm, church leaders appealed to church leaders and members throughout the dozens of islands in the English-speaking Caribbean to contribute funds to help Dominica.

Through its ADRA and Community Services departments, the North Caribbean Conference embraced the opportunity to engage its members in meeting the needs in Dominica.

 “We see this as an opportunity for the members of the conference to experience and be involved in missions,” said Dr. Henry Peters, Community Services director of the North Caribbean Conference. Peters was instrumental in coordinating a group of skilled church volunteers to assist in Grenada after a major hurricane and now shares the group’s skills with Dominica.

According to Peters, many of the volunteers were born in Dominica and view their efforts as personal contributions to the nation which nurtured them.

The team from North Caribbean joined the Christian Disaster Relief team from the United States and Canada had began on the project early in Janyary 1 and are providing continuous work on a rotation basis, explained Peters.

One volunteer team leader, Herman Ravariere, First Elder of the Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist Church on St. Croix, was upbeat about his involvement: “We think Dominica is a great place and we’re glad that we can help a little bit.”

ADRA Dominica hopes to complete 25 homes by the end of the project in the months and year to come.