GREAT ABACO, THE BAHAMAS
I was privileged enough to travel to Abaco and work with some amazing folks from the World Central Kitchen from Nov 14-17. My sister, Sandie Orsa, has been there for the past 2 months, since Hurricane Dorian hit. She is responsible for the coordination and delivery of 7,500 meals per day, 7 days a week (amongst other duties) to the locals of Abaco. She began her journey with World Central Kitchen as a volunteer in September of 2018 after Hurricane Florence and is now contracted with the organization through the duration of the relief mission in Abaco.
The team quickly put me to work preparing food for cooking, helping set up the first pop-up farmer’s market and attending island government meetings. I had to mix in photo opportunities when I had time. Everything is run off generators and most of the island is still without water. World Central Kitchen was fortunate enough to get set up in a hotel that is still standing and safe to stay in. Taking cold showers, lighting citronella candles to keep bugs out of our rooms and having to brush our teeth with bottled water was reality.
I witnessed literal blood, sweat and tears during my short stay, the work is emotionally and physically draining. Somehow with bursts of adrenaline from the overwhelming sense of selflessness, gratitude and humanity you can see people push through and provide food for so many.
Saturday night after working all day I walked around the island a bit and explored the aftermath.
The amount of debris, abandoned vehicles and destruction is still unbelievable and a sight to be seen.
I helped set up World Central Kitchen’s first pop-up farmer’s market in Cooperstown, about an hour north of the base kitchen in Marsh Harbor. This young boy and his mother received a full bag of fresh produce along with over 100 others.
Many locals come to the kitchen to help prepare food for World Central Kitchen’s chefs. Their part in this is so important for the operation to maintain 7,500 meals a day. These ladies are hard working and always have a smile on their face.
A great moment to remember during our pop-up farmer’s market. This woman has stayed strong and has helped World Central Kitchen gain much insight into the area.
I met a great artist by the name of Benjamin Swatez, Instagram @benjaminwatez. This guy paints murals and works as a true humanitarian all over the world. He places art in the hands of everyone he meets and provides local children a way to express themselves creatively.
The World Central Kitchen’s refrigerators were built in storage containers run off generators.
In order to cook enough food for 7,500 people, World Central Kitchen set up 8 large commercial paella stations. Often times cooking one right after the other for lunch and dinner. In speaking with the chefs, calculating the right amount of ingredients can get tricky depending on the varying numbers of meals needed. Luckily, if the team produced too much for the day, food was provided to other organizations based in Marsh Harbor.
A detailed map and list of delivery locations with quantities was created and used to keep track of the food that was being provided to Abaco.
Meet Chef Scotty, an Arkansas based restaurateur (and cat lover) that came to Abaco with a mission. His commitment to the organization has been vital, directing the team for a successful day of preparing, cooking and packing 7,500 meals. I was lucky enough to be his roommate and get to know him personally.