Freeport trio bring Bahamian Hospitality to the shores of PEI for Hurricane Dorian Relief
Bahamian hospitality is a signature mix of warm greetings, a dose of familiarity and home-cooked food for family, friends and strangers alike. With food being such a strong part of our culture, it’s no surprise that this Freeport-born trio, (Aaron, Anni-yah and Alexander Ferguson) served an array of Bahamian and Caribbean soul food in Prince Edward Island (PEI) as a fundraiser for Hurricane Dorian relief, which had deeply impacted their homeland. Beginning their individual journeys at Holland College (from 2015 – 2017), with focuses on Electrical Engineering and Music Performance, the trio found great joy in expressing their Bahamian roots with the PEI community in such a relatable way.
Growing up in the heart of Grand Bahama, the trio was constantly surrounded by food, family and the act of giving through their family and church. “Raising money through this food-themed event came naturally to me because I believe that food brings people together. I have countless childhood memories of being at my mother’s or grandmother's side in the kitchen and witnessing how a few simple ingredients can come together to ultimately satisfy a hungry belly or an aching heart.” said Anni-yah. “I truly loved experiencing that at home with my family and friends.”
Recounting vividly how she felt upon hearing the news of the hurricane, Anni-yah, the middle sibling, was heartbroken. “When I saw what Hurricane Dorian did to my home island, most especially Freeport where my Grammy's house is located, I was at a loss for words. I felt hurt knowing that my loved ones had to experience such a catastrophic disaster and that I could only watch from miles away.” Although countless organizations were donating towards relief efforts for Abaco and Grand Bahama by mid-September, Anni-yah wanted to have a more homely approach that connected the taste and friendliness of the Bahamas, as well as to the hearts of others. With the support of family, friends and the local church (the Sherwood Church of the Nazarene), the PEI Bahamas Relief Initiative was launched in early November at the church’s venue. Fusing their family’s recipes with a pinch of individual twists, they created and served Bahamian and Caribbean dishes of curry chicken, crack chicken and stripped chicken with servings of jasmine rice, ‘dirty’ rice, coleslaw, hand-cut fries, seasoned corn, and coleslaw. They were also assisted by the Pastor Scott and Melody (pictured above), who were hands-on in the food preparations.
In less than two hours, scores of church members and persons from the surrounding neighborhoods were served and responded positively to the generosity and effort of the event. Despite the quick shortage of food, persons happily made monetary donations and an estimated total of $1000 CAD ($755 BSD) was collected and will be sent directly to Grand Bahama. Their father Alex Ferguson, Pastor of the Beyt Yisrael Natzarim Congregation, will receive the funds and distribute it to those in need.
“We were blessed to have such positive feedback from all who attended and more than happy to know that the food that we grew up eating made a lasting impression on countless people.” said Anni-Yah.
Anni-yah and her brothers continue to do charitable work through their local Canadian church and are continuing to do what they can to support the rebuilding of Freeport. To stay informed on the next PEI (Prince Edward Island) Bahamas Relief Initiative, scheduled for 2020, like and follow the church’s Facebook page for further updates.
Do you have a similar fundraising event in your community here or abroad? Do you know of other Bahamians who are continuing to provide relief or have you started your own? Comment below to share your story.