Time Well Spent: Volunteering While Visiting Dominica*

In truth, I had already planned my return to Dominica before Maria’s catastrophic landfall. Despite the devastation, I was not deterred from visiting my beloved adopted country. However, I knew that my long-awaited reunion with the Nature Isle would not be a typical ‘vacation’.

During the almost two decades that I lived there, I happily offered my skills whenever called upon to do so or when I felt I could make a worthwhile contribution to an organization, event, or institution.

This time around, I decided that I would approach two schools, the humane society and a business to see if I could do anything for them in the short time I was there.

In addition, I was honoured to spend considerable time listening to people share their ‘Maria stories’ and their post-hurricane thoughts and feelings with me. Every day, I went about my travels, errands and experiences with the conscious intention that I would allow time for anyone: stranger, acquaintance, or friend to share with me whatever was on their minds.

Melvina and CLean up Crew
Melvina (centre) of Pointe Michel chats with me across the ravine where several people lost their lives. She and other villagers are cleaning up the area as best they can . Melvina lost  friends and family members in the storm, as well as her popular seaside restaurant business.

As a matter of fact, weeks before I arrived on Dominica, I was advised by friend Tina Alexander of Lifeline Ministries to “be prepared to do a lot of active listening.” While I have no background in counselling and as such could not offer professional advice, I did consciously hear all kinds of ‘Maria stories’ without judgement, but with the utmost of compassion. I only hope that I was able to slightly ease the pain or allow individuals to express some of their thoughts and feelings so that they might be able to heal a little bit from the terror that was ‘Maria’.

CARIB SAND & STONE

One of the most pleasurable activities for me was the continuation from earlier times of walking the two security dogs at a local business, Carib Sand & Stone, aka the Pointe Michel quarry. I had previously learned from friends Wendy Walsh and Liz Madisetti, who frequented the on-site spring for drinking water that the two canines had survived the wrath of Maria, as they had TS Erika two years earlier. However, I did not have any details until I arrived at the site and spoke to Roy, one of the managers. He informed me that the dogs had been taken to the property of a worker who lived nearby, but they were nevertheless traumatized by the hurricane as they happened to be in one of the hardest-hit areas (Loubiere). After the storm, they spent a month or so wandering the area freely until they were able to settle in to their guard duties at the quarry once again.

When I arrived at the quarry  after a half hour walk from my apartment in Wallhouse, I approached the mother and daughter dog team slowly. They had taken note of me, and the expressions on their canine faces were almost comical. ‘Quarry’, the elder canine, tilted her head and gazed at me quizzically. Her daughter ‘Forty-Two’ (named after a quarry machine) wagged her tail uncertainly. Once I spoke to them, a noisy commotion ensued. Perhaps it was my scent too, but there was definitely a ruckus that caused nearby workers to pause from their work and laugh out loud.

That first day, I did not put a leash on them and they remained in their customary spots. Instead, I sat between them on a convenient bench, put some treats in their bowls and provided lots of pats. I was recovering from a back injury, so it would be another couple of weeks before we would ‘hit the road’. It was a thrill to reacquaint with “the girls,” as I affectionately call them. For the next six weeks, I would visit with them a few times a week, give them a half hour walk each, and receive dog hugs, among other types of pet affection in return . Of course I cried the last time I saw them, as I had when I left the country a year and a half before. I told them I would be back and look forward to that happy reunion, God-willing.

 

ST. LUKE’S PRIMARY SCHOOL

Sometimes after visiting with “the girls,” I made my way a little further south by either walking or taking a bus to the nearby village of Pointe Michel. This vibrant seaside village had sadly suffered significant loss of life during Hurricane Maria. Five months later, they were struggling to regain a semblance of normalcy and cope with about 18 tragic deaths, which had adversely impacted their community. I really wanted to do something for my next-door-neighbourhood that I had gotten to know quite well during my almost 20 years in Dominica.  I approached Sister Anita, Principal at St. Luke’s Primary School to see if I could offer any assistance.

Although I had no experience teaching in a primary school, Sister Anita enthusiastically welcomed me and immediately suggested that I might be able to assist with the K’s and Grade 1’s Reading Intervention Program. It was being coordinated by Ms. Kathie Richards and Sister took me over to meet her right away.

Ms. Richards greeted me warmly and asked when I could start. Then she told me that she is a Canadian-Dominican who had spent a number of years “up north!” We hit it off right away and often proudly disclosed our shared dual nationalities to other teachers and some parents during the course of my time there.

I already knew St. Luke’s reputation as a very progressive school, with a well-rounded holistic approach to learning. But to see how things worked in that encouraging learning environment was truly remarkable.I did not actively teach, but instead supported Ms. Richards with her one-on-one work in helping young children with reading challenges to recognize vowel and consonant sounds, form simple words and then read basic sentences with those sounds and words. One day I expressed to her that I felt I was not being helpful enough. She quickly responded: “I assure you that are helping tremendously. You are showing an interest in the students and they want to please you and show you what they can accomplish. When you are not here, they ask me when you are coming back!”

In this nurturing environment, I experienced so many heartwarming moments. I could not help but feel uplifted every time I was there. At one assembly, Sister Anita reminded the students to think of others in the world who have suffered from tragedies. “Remember the children in Syria in your prayers,” she counselled. I also observed community-mindedness during the season of Lent. Each class delivered a basket of items to someone else in need in the neighbourhood. As well, the popular Environmental Club toured nearby areas to better understand  the types of devastation caused by Maria.

One morning, I was waiting for Ms. Richards following a Friday school mass at the church of St. Luke’s on the compound. When it was over, a group of students passed directly by me on their way to their classroom-in-a-tent. Some children greeted me while others focused on getting back to their desks inside the temporary structure. Their teacher, Ms. Dangleben, was at the back of the group. She approached me with a cheery “Good Morning!” and then asked, “Did the students say ‘Good Morning’ to you?” “Some did,” I replied. She first looked horrified and then called out,”Class, turn around now. We are going back…” In the next few minutes, the class reappeared, in orderly file, and EACH one acknowledged me with a ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’, accompanied with plentiful smiles.

When I spoke to Ms. Dangelben about that scenario sometime later, while her class was occupied with a science activity, I did thank her but assured her that I was not offended when the entire class did not greet me. She replied: “No – that is not acceptable. They must be courteous to our visitors.”

Even though I was only there once a week for a short time, I was constantly amazed by the high degree of dedication, discipline, devotion, encouragement and compassion exhibited by all of the teachers. Ms. Richards shared with me her concerns for the children following the trauma inflicted by the hurricane. One day, I heard about it directly. I accompanied Ms. Richards to pick up a little boy from his classroom for reading assistance. He looked very tired and seemed somewhat agitated. She asked him what was wrong. He replied:”I heard rain and wind last night and I could not sleep!” The after-effects of that terrible storm will certainly linger for a long time. I imagine that this little boy was likely living under a tarpaulin-covered roof. Ms. Richards and I both comforted him, let him speak about it, and provided as much assurance as we could by telling him that he was safe.

On my last day, the school held a general assembly, in which I was thanked profusely for assisting them. I was presented with some lovely tokens and a beautiful handmade card in which was written: “Thank You: We appreciate the time you spent with us. We love you!!”

I was moved to tears by this thoughtful gesture and assured everyone at St. Luke’s Primary School that I would be delighted to assist them again during my next visit to the Nature Island.

 

ORION ACADEMY

After Carnival in mid-February, I was able to catch up with Ms. Elizabeth Madisetti, Principal of Orion Academy, a privately-funded, holistically-focused secondary school. Previously, I had taught English Literature there, from the school’s inception, for about eight years. I enquired as to whether I could help in any way – in particular with fourth and fifth form, as I had always enjoyed preparing the senior literature students for their external CSEC examinations. Ms. Madisetti spoke to Ms. Charles, the English Literature teacher, and they asked me when I could come!

When I first arrived at the school, there was considerable excitement as they were preparing for a’Games Night’ fundraiser. Orion had, like most other buildings, received extensive damage as a result of ‘Maria’. Principal Liz Madisetti showed me the worst of the devastation straight away: half of the school was no longer there! Between the close proximity of the raging Roseau River and the extreme winds that night, there was not much left of the western side of the building. Instead, some twisted metal and the remains of an appliance where the kitchen used to be occupied that portion of the school property. (The fundraiser was successful but much more would be needed to upgrade and repair the extensive damage).

With the typical resourcefulness and resiliency that is prevalent in Dominica, the teachers, parents and students pulled together to make it work, despite the less than ideal circumstances. Twice a week for the next few weeks, I guided the senior English literature students through some of the poems and short stories that are required reading on the syllabus for their regional examinations. Ms. Shirley Charles, their exuberant and effervescent instructor attended the classes too. The popular teacher, who is also a renowned calypsonian, had already prepared the students well, and they responded with enthusiasm during our lively analytical discussions.

And it turned out,  it was I who had the greatest challenge in the classroom. While my group gathered around a table on one end of the room, other students were being taught a different subject concurrently on the other side of the room. There was neither partition nor any kind of sound-proofing. I had to focus and concentrate very hard to present my lecture in a cohesive manner. It took all my energy in the stifling room, however, the students were not deterred. Time passed too quickly, and on my last day, one of the students expressed appreciation on behalf of the class for assisting them with their studies. I in turn thanked them for being a wonderful class – so productive and cooperative despite the circumstances, and I also wished them well.

As I was leaving the school, Ms. Charles approached me and thanked me again. “When are you coming back?” she asked. “Next January. I’ll stay through April next year, God-willing and weather-permitting,” I replied. Oh good!” she responded, “Could you please help the students review their course work before their final exams in May 2019?” “Certainly. I’d love to!” I eagerly responded.

(No photos available at this time, but you can see some of the Orion family by clicking here).

HUMANE SOCIETY OF DOMINICA

Then, on my last week of this visit, I happily volunteered to assist the Humane Society of Dominica (HSD) with the first in a series of ‘Spay/Neuter’ initiatives, in collaboration with the Veterinary Unit of the Government of Dominica. In keeping with the nation’s climate resilience objectives, the HSD, a charitable organization explained their recent mission in this way: “In the aftermath of disasters that affect people’s homes and create displacement, pets are often left homeless and the roaming pet populations can escalate rapidly. More cats and dogs hunting in search of food directly affect the ability of local wildlife, such as small reptiles, iguanas and birds, to come back to pre-disaster levels. Spaying/neutering is a first, humane step in helping our environment regain its richness and variety, important factors for Dominica’s resilience.”

As an animal lover and keen environmentalist, the HSD is no stranger to me, and I have supported them in small ways since their inception 18 years ago. In return, they have always helped me with any domestic animal concerns and questions. I admire what they do, in terms of education and specific events to help people and animals co-exist in more humane ways.

When Yola Toussaint, Director of the HSD asked me if I could lend a hand (or two) with their first Spay/Neuter initiative, which would be held in the Kalinago Territory, I did not hesitate. Although I have environmental allergies and would have to avoid medical/surgical products, I still felt that I would be able to put myself to good use.

As it turned out, I stayed in the background and occupied myself with varied tasks. If Yola the Director or Sasha, the other volunteer needed supplies from the vehicle or something  to be located in the “operating” room, I was the go-for person. As well, I ensured there were covered places for the recovering dogs on the floor on-site at the Salybia Resource Centre. From about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., four veterinarians, two  assistant veterinarians and we three volunteers concentrated intensively on the overall process of spaying and neutering 30 dogs!

And then there was the human element: a few dog owners expressed concern about how the procedure might affect their pets. With empathy and a positive outlook, I reassured and comforted them. As many of the dogs were free to roam in their neighbourhood,  the pet-owners understood that sterilization would prevent too many puppies and not enough homes for them, among other concerns. I could see that their humans loved them dearly, and I listened attentively to their stories of how these animals came into their lives and that they wanted the best quality of life for them.

During the post-op recovery, there were sometimes (understandably)  a few little “accidents”: ‘bodily functions’ still functioned while under anesthetic, and I willingly mopped up, wiped up  and cleaned up, as needed. I was happy to do whatever I could to help: my love for all animals has no limits!

Really, it was not a problem, especially since I was filled with even more joy when children from the nearby school dropped in after class. They did not hesitate to gather around the surgery tables while the procedures were in progress. As they quietly looked on with fascination and focus, I observed that not one child was faint of heart. I was so impressed! Perhaps one or two of them were inspired to pursue studies in veterinary sciences!

 

The Humane Society of Dominica’s ‘Spay/Neuter’ initiative continues and I look forward to volunteering with this important local organization, my two special schools and tending my foster quarry dogs when I return to the Nature Island. I can hardly wait!

*For further information about specific visitor-related ‘voluntourism’ packages in Dominica, contact the Discover Dominica Authority (DDA) at tourism@dominica.gov.dm. Individuals interested in a particular organization on-island may make a direct enquiry. Alternatively, the DDA can assist with related queries, if required.

** If you would like to make a donation in cash or kind to St. Luke’s Primary School, Orion Academy or the Humane Society of Dominica, then please click the links for further information.  They are all in need of materials and supplies, as the recovery from Hurricane Maria is an ongoing process.  Thank you for your consideration!

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The Neighbourly Way: ‘At Home’ In Dominica

At long last, I was back on Dominican soil. I had been in Canada for one and a half years and I had missed the Nature Island every day. When I disembarked from the Express Des Iles at the Roseau ferry terminal at about noon on Wednesday January 24th, I did not have to wait more than a few moments before two familiar faces came towards me out of the huge crowd on the Bayfront.

First came Tina Alexander, with whom I would soon have lunch- and then appeared my longtime neighbour and host Vernon Gordon, who would take me to my apartment to drop off my luggage and return me to the Fort Young Hotel, my  rendez-vous point with Tina.

While travelling south from Roseau to my old neighbourhood and rental apartment, I was stunned in to silence,even though I had many questions to ask Vernon. What initially rendered me speechless was my quick glance at the Roseau

Roseau Public Library3
Roseau Public Library, which dates back to 1906, was severely damaged and most of its collection destroyed.

Public Library. I already knew that it had been destroyed and yes, I had looked at photos, but to actually see one of my favourite and frequented places in Dominica in such a demolished state instantly brought tears to my eyes. And the sad sights only increased through the areas called Newtown and Citronnier, where some seaside homes and hotels were either no longer there or in a state seemingly beyond repair. In their places, debris and post-hurricane refuse such as ubiquitous galvanized roofing sheets were scattered everywhere – most of the metal badly mangled and unusable.

 

Meanwhile, Vernon was on the speaker phone with his uncle in England; along with arranging extensive repairs to his own home, he was helping him to obtain information about products and goods that would be needed to fix his relative’s house in another suburban area north of Roseau.

By the time we drove up the once-familiar roads in the Castle Comfort and

Wallhouse roof losses
Tarpaulins covered many roofs, and roadways deteriorated following Hurricane Maria.

Wallhouse subdivisions, I could not speak at all. Blue tarps covered most of the roofs in this densely populated area, and the pothole-filled, broken-up lanes and roadways were practically impassable.

 

When we arrived at the Gordon residence a few minutes later, I gazed around me in complete shock. It was the strangest feeling: everything looked at once familiar and oddly different at the same time. That included the houses, landscape and roadways.  Nevertheless, I was, as always, entranced by the verdant shades of green that Vernon immediately told me weren’t there for a month or so after the hurricane.

As Tina was waiting and Vernon had to get back to work, I did not linger after the bags had been dropped in the rear apartment, which had previously been occupied by a student at the All Saints University School of Medicine. They had to evacuate immediately after the storm and were sent to St. Vincent, an island further south in the Eastern Caribbean . I already knew that the Gordons were occupying the larger apartment at the front of their property. With the loss of their roof, they could not live in their spacious home upstairs until the extensive repairs had been done.

At that point, the completion date was unknown as Vernon had to go off-island to purchase his roofing supplies and then wait for a qualified and familiar building team, already in great demand, to do the required work. Meanwhile, some of the furniture that they had been able to salvage was neatly stored in the corners of my roomy apartment, and the student’s belongings were carefully tucked at the back of the closet and underneath the bed in anticipation of her return. These were extraordinary times, and I was so thankful to have a place to stay in close proximity to my longtime good neighbours and to be the recipient of their generosity and hospitality.

Back in town, I tentatively walked in the front entrance of the Fort Young Hotel. It was filled with a lunchtime crowd, comprised of aid workers, residents in search of WiFi due to scanty wireless services and limited electricity around the island, and a few intrepid tourists. As I scanned the busy scene, I caught Tina’s eye across the room and then turned around to see a group of familiar faces sporting huge smiles. I am certain my grin stretched from ear to ear as I quickly strode over to greet several friends who just happened to be there too!

Even though I was hot and sweaty in my boat travelling outfit of long pants and long-sleeved blouse, I rejoiced in chatting face to face with this assembly of friends in Dominica. I had intended to shop for groceries, but fatigue, afternoon heat and engaging conversations prevented me from going any farther than the washroom that afternoon.

When we collectively parted later that day with assurances to meet throughout my stay, I waited outside the hotel for Vernon to pick me up on his way home from work. When he stopped, he  remarked that I had not purchased any groceries. I explained that I was now on island time and that I could do it tomorrow, but he insisted on taking me to a nearby store (ACS 7/11 Mini-Mart) to pick up some essentials. There, I purchased heavier items and enough supplies to tide me over for a day or two. Once back at my self-catering apartment, I unpacked my groceries and part of my luggage while waiting for the rest of the Gordon family to appear after their workday.

Now extremely tired from my very long travel day, I wanted nothing better than to

Gordons Roses
Spectacular blooms in the Gordons’ post-Maria garden.

sit on the porch and stare at the beauty all around me. With a kitchen chair to support me and a cup of tea to soothe me, I

Gordons Brownie Dog in Repose
Brownie the playful puppy.

also acquainted myself with Brownie the puppy, a recent addition to the Gordon family who became one of my walking companions. While I could not directly see the sunset from my perch, I enjoyed the shades of pale colours in the western sky and relaxed to the early night sounds of a few insects and some birds who were slowly reappearing four months after Maria.

Gordons Garden Dove
Soothing sounds of doves serenaded me early mornings and evenings.

As I had lived across the street and later just down the road from the Gordons for about 15 years, I certainly felt ‘at home’. I could not think of anywhere else I would rather be, despite the devastation all around me.

I had only begun to settle in when I got a taste of what the Gordons and everyone on Dominica had experienced during Hurricane Maria. On my first Sunday morning on island, I watched the German cruise ship, Mein Schiff anchor at the Roseau Pier in torrential rain. It was rather chilly, relatively speaking, and I did wonder how the visitors would enjoy this dreary day. I started to shiver on the porch, and went into the bedroom to get a jacket.

On my way to the closet, I looked down and was shocked to see a puddle of water next to the bed. “How did that get there?” I wondered to myself as the wet area was not close to a window and they were all shut anyway. Then I looked up and gasped as I grasped the situation. Drops of water steadily fell from a growing stain on the ceiling.

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Gordon father and son secure a torn tarpaulin during a break in torrential rains in January 2018.
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Catching the drops to prevent water damage!

 

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Water marks on the ceiling of my bedroom!

 

I took another deep breath and went next door to tell the Gordons. I tentatively knocked and entered. Vernon and his wife Geramise were in the midst of  their Sunday breakfast.  “Um…it looks like we’ve got a little flood going on.” I really hated to tell them this. “Where?” Geramise asked. “In-in the bedroom,” I stammered.

In a flash, Vernon surveyed the scene while Geramise and I gathered containers to catch the drops. “I guess the tarpaulin has ripped or come off and water is seeping down through the floor above,”  he surmised.

Without a moment’s hesitation, he and his son Kevin climbed up a ladder and readjusted the temporary cover during a break in the pounding rain. The tarpaulin, which had been in place for about four months had ripped apart. As it was only a short-term solution while the Gordons were preparing to rebuild their permanent roof, I contacted my friend Tina Alexander of Lifeline Ministries to see if she knew where to source a new tarpaulin. Sure enough, she secured one for the Gordons (thanks Tina!), and the next weekend father and son went back up on the roof to replace the torn one with a stronger version which would hopefully hold on until the real thing could be built anew.

During my first few weeks in Dominica, even up to Carnival in mid-February, the rain persisted, along with heavy winds. Tarpaulins all around detached and flapped vigorously in the night, but it was too dangerous for people to go up on their roofs to secure their temporary measure.  So most people in my neighbourhood did whatever they could to contain the relentless rainwater, while hoping that help would soon be on the way.  For many, awaiting a reimbursement from an insurance company was a lengthy process, due to the overwhelming volume of claims, coupled with the challenge of locating highly sought-after building supplies on-island. Companies struggled to meet with the excessive demands but sold-out very quickly so the  purchase and reorder process crawled along.

While the Gordons chose to obtain supplies on other islands, there was still a lengthy wait for qualified roofers to do the job that included sufficient improvements to make it more climate-resilient. As the next hurricane season approached, concerns were mounting all over Dominica about lack of preparedness, but most of the people that I met were optimistically holding onto the hope that all would be well before the rainy season began in earnest again!

Before I even arrived at the Gordons apartments, I was aware that electricity service was non-existent, as in most other parts of Dominica. That meant going without any current during the daytime. However, my hosts, like many other neighbours, invested in a small generator so that power was available for about 4 hours every evening. Most days, I frequently found myself at the Fort Young Hotel, where I enjoyed breakfast or lunch along with WiFi service. Therefore, I was not adversely affected in terms of writing and other online communications.

Back at the Gordons, with generator power, we shared the refrigerator and the semi-automatic washing machine, which were both located in my apartment. With infrequent opening of the fridge and freezer, food stuffs were kept cool and/or frozen for a day or two. At first I was wary of the more labour-intensive, generator- compatible washer, but after Geramise walked me through the process, I was completely amazed with the results.  The spin component practically dried the clothing before it was out of the machine!

Meanwhile, DOMLEC crews and partners from other Caribbean countries appeared

A Domlec lineman hard at work in Wallhouse.

all over Wallhouse as they feverishly worked to replace downed power lines, ruined transformers and reconnected source wires to houses. I occasionally watched them work. I was amazed by their stamina and cheerful demeanor, as their hours were long, sometimes well into the evening and there was much to be done all over the island.

When the workers were next to the Gordons some evenings, I observed on more than one occasion their neighbourly offer of coffee and tea, which was received by the weary, but hard-working team with profound thanks. I stood by, took photos, chatted amiably with the group and carried the cups back to my hosts.

DOMLEC and friends in Wallhouse
The Domlec crew enjoys a cuppa,compliments of the Gordons.

Then, one Saturday in early March, the power was switched back on at the Gordon’s apartments. After more than five months without electricity, the generator could be retired, and both apartments were fully operational after passing their safety certification check.  Of course, the main house could only be ‘hooked up’ once the roof was replaced and all electrical circuits verified intact.  That was yet to come!

Although a ‘tenant’, I was the grateful recipient of Gordon hospitality and assistance on countless occasions.  I enjoyed substantial and delicious Sunday dinners for my entire stay, along with portions of fresh fruits and vegetables from their relatives in the countryside. Sometimes there were seasoning peppers or herbs such as basilic from their own backyard garden. I even got to savor the occasional fresh jelly

Jelly Coconut in Wallhouse
I savored the occasional jelly coconut from the Gordons’ tree that survived Hurricane Maria.

coconut and its sweet ‘water’, right off the tree in the yard. I kept quiet about that treat, as this once-common refreshment had become very scarce on island due to crop and tree destruction caused bHurricane Maria.

‘Down time’ on the porch was an added bonus.

 

I overlooked the Gordons’

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The phenomenal coconut tree in the Gordons’ yard.

flourishing flower garden that they tended with care.I situated myself there most early mornings and evenings to meditate on the beautiful flowers and trees, listen to melodious bird song, watch the changing colours of the evening sky, observe early morning moon-sets over the sea, and study the stars in the heavens with great clarity in this unpolluted environment.  Sometimes Geramise joined me after work, and we watched the celestial bodies appear and disappear as night fell on the Nature Island.

Full moon in February over Caribbean Sea
Early morning  February full moon-set over the Caribbean Sea (after weeks of rain!)

The fun and challenge of walking ‘Brownie’, the newest addition to the Gordon family gave me experience in managing a puppy. While it was not easy to attach the leash in his excitable state, Brownie usually settled down after about 5 minutes on the road. The neighbours’ dogs always announced our presence and everyone seemed to succumb to Brownie’s good-natured charms. The likable small-breed local dog grew to about twice his size while I was there. I think he helped me increase strength in my arms!

All of the people in Wallhouse, Leopoldville and Loubiere warmly welcomed me and I listened attentively to their stories of Maria. In some ways, I felt as if I had never

Leopoldville Loubiere Under Tarpaulin
Under tarpaulin near the river in Leopoldville.
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Spider was a popular, longstanding eatery in Loubiere.
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The interior of the Catholic Church In Loubiere was completely destroyed by the unknown force of the river beside it.
Leopoldville Loubiere Galvanized metal debris
Galvanized roofing metal was no match for Maria.

left the place and there were moments that life in the Nature Isle seemed just like old times. But in other ways, the obvious damage to roofs from the  sustained winds of 175 mph was less horrific than the devastation caused by abnormally swollen rivers filled with rocks and uprooted trees, as well as a violent sea on that terrifying night. In Loubiere, several lives were lost, while many others barely escaped death. Even six months after the destructive event, people were trying to carry on with a positive outlook and an abiding faith in God. More about this

Post-Maria riverbed below Wallhouse at Leopoldville, Loubiere.

part of my post-Maria story in a subsequent post.

The time in Dominica passed far too quickly and I guess my feelings about leaving ‘home’ showed on my face during my last few days on-island. “Look Geramise, Gwen is crying,” teased Vernon more than once when he opened his apartment door in the early morning  to see me on the porch, staring at the blue sky or gazing at that hardy coconut palm tree.

Gordons’ Brownie waits for a new roof amidst the building supplies

“You don’t want to leave, do you!?” he taunted.  “No,” I readily admitted, “But I’ll be back!”

 

 

Rainbow over Wallhouse, my neighbourhood in Dominica!