A Storm Called Erika


  • Aldene Shillingford University of the West Indies, (UWI), Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica
  • Nicola Williams University of the West Indies, (UWI), Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica
  • Lita Allen




For more than a decade, graduate students and local agencies across the Caribbean have interacted via the University of the West Indies’ service-learning model, through its Caribbean Internship Programme (CIP), to execute various interventions directed at local and regional development. This paper examines experiences with utilizing community-based psychosocial support through service-learning as a post disaster response. The examination of reports of graduate psychology and social work students, a social work practitioner and programme staff at the Dominica Social Welfare Division provides critical considerations for assessing the service-learning model being utilised by the CIP. 

The reports on engagement of CIP participants subsequent to the passage of Tropical Storm Erika in the Commonwealth of Dominica, 2015, revealed that 1.) the experience of severe hazardous events has redefined the support needs of the Division. Consequently, the nature of the partnership with the CIP must be revised; 2.) grassroots interaction with students from different countries engenders the propensity for mutual support and regional integration; 3.) pre-disaster dynamics must be understood for effective post disaster responses 4.) there is a need for greater collaboration among all stakeholders in revising the University’s programme curriculum to meet the changing needs of organisations facilitating students’ development through service-learning.  

Key words: Caribbean Internship Programme, service-learning, community-based psychosocial support, post disaster response







Author Biographies

Aldene Shillingford, University of the West Indies, (UWI), Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica

Lecturer in Social Work and Coordinator of the UWI's Caribbean internship (service-learning) programme.

Nicola Williams, University of the West Indies, (UWI), Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica

Assistant Lecturer in Social Work, UWI

Lita Allen

Retired Lecturer UWI, Volunteer Trainer Jamaica Red Cross