Team Antigua Island Girls raised just over $630,000.00 for their charity, Cottage of Hope.
In 2018/19, the team of four—captain Kevinia Francis, Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing and Samara Emanuel—were the first all-black team to row any ocean, the first all-female Caribbean team to enter the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, and the third team from Antigua and Barbuda. They completed the 3,000-nautical mile row from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua in 47 days, eight hours and 25 minutes.
The Island Girls announced that, through the kind contributions of the main sponsors and groups and individuals across the length and breadth of Antigua and Barbuda and the diaspora, they The donations amount to approximately XCD $1 million, but $403,397.00, just slightly under the projected budget of $407,000.00, went towards their participation in the race.
The Family and Social Services Division in the Ministry of Social Transformation is working with the principals of Cottage of Hope to ensure that the home meets the criteria for residential homes for care and protection as adopted from regional minimum standards for alternative care services for children by UNICEF and the OECS. The money is being held in trust while the process is underway. Team Antigua Island Girls has, however, informed the relevant authorities that, if required, funds raised may be used to achieve compliance.
Meanwhile, the women are celebrating the one-year anniversary of their historic feat with a week of activities, including media rounds, a photo signing, a donation to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, a cakeand-wine event, sponsors’ appreciation day and an obstacle course and fit party.
The rationale for the celebration is to remind women and girls of their inner strength and of the things that can be achieved through teamwork and to ensure that they stamp their mark in history.
“We were the first all-Black team to row any ocean, and while that was well-captured and is welldocumented in the local and international press, unfortunately Guinness Book of World Records doesn’t document achievements according to race and ethnicity. This makes it even more important for us, as black women—black people in general—to tell our own stories and beat our own drums and ensure that our feats are neither diminished nor erased,” Francis said.
“We are also extremely grateful to our sponsors, Hadeed Group of Companies, Gold Plus; Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), Intertops and Jumby Bay Fund, Gold; Kennedy’s Club Ltd, Silver Plus; State Insurance Corporation, Silver; the Halo Foundation and Lady Sandra Williams; as well as Sir Viv Richards; all of the small business people, including Gamal Goodwin, Gemma Hazelwood, Ted Martin and Francis Casey; the wider public in Antigua and Barbuda; our management team of Mickel Brann, Marcella Andre and Natasha Richardson; and our alternate Junella King, who supported our venture with tremendous moral and financial support. Our story is bigger than the four of us; it is about how a nation rallied behind us and, in the process, embraced unity that is rarely seen. It is about the young girls who still tell us they are inspired by us, and our confidence that many of them will break barriers and smash glass ceilings,” Francis added.