Bahamian college students in South Florida finally hear from family in Abaco

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Florida Memorial University student Khalil Dean said he has been messaging constantly with his grandmother.

They lost contact with relatives in the Bahamas when Hurricane Dorian unleashed its fury.

"My family in Abaco is still missing. They've been missing for about three days now," Dean said.

It wasn't until late Wednesday that he finally reached his aunt and uncle, Ruffus and Marjorie Martin, as well as cousins Shauna, Rachel and Ruffus Jr. in Marsh Harbor.

"It is stressful. I'm over here and there's nothing I can do to help my family," he said. 

From left: Ruffus Martin, Rachel Martin (bottom), Shauna Martin (top), Marjorie Martin, and Ruffus Martin, Jr.
From left: Ruffus Martin, Rachel Martin (bottom), Shauna Martin (top), Marjorie Martin, and Ruffus Martin, Jr.

According to FMU President Jaffus Hardrick, 12% of the students at the school are from the Bahamas. 

Some went back to the islands last week to check on family as the hurricane approached. All have been accounted for, Hardrick said.

"Oh, my God, when I saw the devastation, the level of devastation, I realized the images were not doing justice," Hardrick said.

Hardrick says he recently visited the Abaco Islands to recruit new students.

He's now coordinating counseling services and said he is in contact with Bahamian officials to help.

"We have a lot of support systems in place to make sure that we are taking care of our students, letting them know that we're going to do everything in our powers to make sure that they are in contact with their family members," he said.

Student government member Zion Gates-Norris isn't Bahamian, but said he feels a kinship with the islands.

"When we saw what was going on, we automatically had to go do something," Gates-Norris said.

Gates-Norris said the student government will be starting a donation drive in coordination with school administrators. Water and non-perishable items are on the wish list.

"Things that are needed so that we can make sure we can make a change in the Bahamas, and make sure that these families that are affected are helped," he said.

Dean said any donations from fellow students are appreciated.

"Our country is in shambles, and we need as much help as possible," he said.

About the Author: