A Kennesaw State University senior with ties to the Bahamas is doing his bit to help residents of the Atlantic Ocean nation suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Malik Lyder, a 21-year-old KSU senior, is collecting donations for Dorian victims that he plans to take to the Bahamas in November to dispense among those displaced by the hurricane.
“Family members on Grand Bahama Island have been sending us photos and video of the devastation they’ve experienced. Seeing the destruction and the amount of people without homes and kids without food, it breaks your heart, knowing you’re living here and doing well and people back home are dealing with mad chaos,” he told the MDJ.
At least 50 people died in the Bahamas as a result of Dorian, which made landfall there on Sept. 1 as a Category 5 storm, completely devastating Grand Bahama Island and the Abaco islands in the country’s northwest.
Over 2,500 people have been registered as missing, the Bahamian government told reporters last week.
Lyder said his grandparents, aunts and uncles live in Bimini, the westernmost district of the Bahamas which comprises a chain of islands located about 50 miles east of Miami.
“I have a cousin who lost her entire house and an aunt in Grand Bahama who lost her entire house,” Lyder said. “It was devastating, it was pretty rough.”
Lyder, who majors in international relations, was last in the Bahamas in April and said the people there are good at pulling together in times of need.
“That’s what I’ve been telling people — Bahamians are strong. It’s a solid bump in the road but this is something we’ll overcome.”
He is partnering with his mother in Macon as well as the owners of a Caribbean restaurant there called Tropical Flava to collect donations.
People in the Cobb area can contact Lyder to donate essential items, including diapers, baby food, toothbrushes, deodorant, liquid soap, air mattresses, sheets and blankets, as well as cash, which he will use to purchase the necessary items that aren’t donated.
Flashlights, battery-operated devices and twin-size bedding are also in hot demand right now, he said.
The first phase of Lyder’s relief effort ends Sept. 22 but any donations after that date will still be collected and taken to the Bahamas in subsequent trips.
“We’ll drive with the donations down to Miami and then we’ll get a boat over to the Bahamas,” he said, adding that people living near Macon can drop donations off at the Tropical Flava restaurant on Ingleside Avenue.
Lyder said his parents and siblings still live in Macon, where he grew up, and the family has been getting updates from relatives in the Bahamas.
To date he has collected about $2,000 in cash as well as material donations worth about $2,500.
“It feels good to do something to help,” he said.
Lyder will spend about a week in the Bahamas dispersing donations with help from churches there, because he said there is a lot of “red tape” associated with donating through the government.
KSU tweeted about Lyder’s efforts on Tuesday, sharing a report by news station 13WMAZ where Lyder used to be a junior journalist.
Those wanting to donate can contact Lyder at 478-973-4021.