Hurricane Maria formed at the doorstep of Dominica from a Category 1 to a Category 5 Hurricane in less than 15 hours, leaving no warning to its population to prepare safely.
The Commonwealth of Dominica has (or "had" sadly) an amazing tropical forest, known as having "365 rivers", with volcanic activity, numerous sulfur hot springs and the famous "Boiling Lake". It is also called "The Nature Island".
My relation to Dominica is this: as a medical student myself, I have done part of my studies at a Caribbean Medical School on the Island of Dominica for almost 3 years several years ago.
The beautiful family who welcomed and cherished me during my stay on the island back then, have tragically lost 2 children during the storm, as the river tripled in size bringing down huge centennial tree logs, rocks and debris with forceful fury, destroying everything in its path: 2 young girls lost their lives, Yakira 15 and Destiny 4 years old, taken away by the river and the sea.
(both girls pictured here with their mother Melia and their siblings- Destiny on her mother's lap, and Yakira on the top left of the picture)
Their parents injured with broken legs and hands during the storm, trying to save them.
It was so traumatic.
95 % of the population lost their roof during the storm. There is still no running water and no electricity on the island.
The wind force was so strong that every leaf was ripped off of every tree, and every tree was stripped off its bark: the winds were THAT strong, leaving a land of desolation and apocalyptic scenery.
The beautiful tropical forest is gone: no more coconut trees, no more grapefruit trees, no more papayas, no more mangoes, no more coffee or cocoa beans, no more avocado trees, which all helped the local population survive and were all foundation crops for their economy; their tourist industry also GONE.
Gone, gone, gone. It will take decades for this land to recuperate.
I have traveled to Dominica last October 2017 bringing them water filters, solar lamps, tarps, tools, clothes, etc with the help of local donations.
There is however so much to be done. They need a generator, a chainsaw, building materials to rebuild from scratch. The family who lost the girls also lost their entire home swept away by the sea and river, and ALL their belongings.
Here is a CNN footage if you're interested, of this family's village destruction where the girls died:
And another footage by The Guardian: at some point it shows the father (Sylvester) of Yakira and Destiny speaking of his loss, then them singing.
It is called "Some don't have bodies to bury":
I cried and I cried and I cried as I realized the unfathomable devastation and the loss of those beautiful girls who once used to "braid and play with my hair in the backyard".
This is why it is my duty to help these beautiful, generous, hard-working and high-spirited people, in any way possible.
Thank you for your generosity and compassion.
All proceeds will go to Melia and Sylvester's family to help them rebuild a roof over their head, and a decent house for their 4 kids.
- Graeson Howland
- Rebekah Stetson
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