Ben Jamieson photographed Lia Head-Rigby and Gina Knowles for the Bahamian Project. These two remarkable women are the principal organisers behind the HeadKnowles Hurricane Joaquin Relief effort that brought much-needed help to families in the central and southern Bahamas in the aftermath of the devastating category four storm in October 2015.
In an article which appeared in The Tribune, January 5, 2016, Lia Head-Rigby reflected on how she and her co-organiser, Gina Knowles, became involved, saying she decided that their network was “just too strong to sit and watch” as hairs stood up on her neck, while tracking Hurricane Joaquin.
In the early morning of Friday, October 2, 2015 Lia said she called and woke up Gina and together, the HeadKnowles duo “mobilised an unprecedented disaster relief response via social media”. The efforts of HeadKnowles and their extensive network was the catalyst behind Bahamians using social media and trending about #OneBahamas.
“The HeadKnowles Hurricane Joaquin relief operation gathered momentum quickly and was executed with an impressive display of organisation and purpose to help individuals impacted throughout the southern islands of The Bahamas, the first time in recent years that a private group came to the aid of the public before the government. Corporate donors and ordinary Bahamians delivered truckloads and shipping containers of water, groceries, clothing and other essential items to assist impacted communities,” said Lia.
Gina said that through the experience of organising the relief effort she found her purpose, which is – to help others. Her husband told her “this is why God gave you a loud voice, so that you can use it because people will listen to you and do good”.
And it hasn’t stopped with Hurricane Joaquin.
In October 2016, Lia and Gina leapt back into action to provide relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, another category four storm that raked across the islands, causing extensive damage. Many were still recovering from the ravages of Joaquin, just a year earlier. The Head-Knowles Foundation has received over $2.5 million in donations and gifts to assist in relief efforts for both hurricanes.
“We have been assisting Andros, Grand Bahama and the southern shores of New Providence from day one as well – after Matthew. We were on the ground in Andros & Grand Bahama immediately with relief,” Lia said.