Dominica is an extremely rare island in the Caribbean in that it is 75% national park along with being incredibly beautiful. There are no big hotel chains anywhere and only 73,000 people living there. It is deemed "The Nature Island" and having seen many of its unbelievable beaches, waterfalls and a boiling lake, it lives up to its name.
After the hurricane ravaged the island last month, those still alive are struggling to find shelter (most homes were destroyed or badly damaged), food (there is still little to no food available on the island), and have to walk a mile or more to get fresh water every day (most of the roads collapsed or are filled with trees and debris). It is difficult for me to comprehend those types of conditions; I got to hear about the specifics mentioned above from someone living in it.
My husband RJ and I met our friend Anthony in Dominica a little less than a year ago when we were there for an amazing 10th anniversary adventure trip. We happened upon his restaurant Kozy Niche to celebrate our anniversary dinner together while staying in the capital city of Roseau. We found him to be an impressive young man in both his character, beliefs and visions for the future of his new business, which he built from the ground up. He made us an amazing meal we thoroughly enjoyed. We shared some of the challenges we had faced as entrepreneurs getting our craft brewery off the ground and hoped to encourage him to stay the course as his hard work would eventually pay off. We talked about his dreams and goals for his future, along with current happenings in the US like the upcoming presidential election. We became fast friends, connected on Facebook and have kept an eye on him and his business since we returned to the US in October 2016. His little restaurant had soared to the top of the trip advisor ratings and we were enjoying seeing a responsible and visionary young man's dreams come to fruition.
And then, we learned about hurricane Maria's utter and complete destruction of the island, which took everyone by surprise.
A few days after the island's internet access was recovered I was able to reach Anthony
to hear that he, his mom, stepdad and girlfriend are all okay. "Broken, but okay," were his exact words. He also told me it is like hell on earth there right now. A large tree uprooted itself during the category 5 storm and landed on his home, destroying their shelter. His little restaurant was also destroyed. If you have seen any of the news related to the outcome of this island, you likely know how bad things are in Roseau and surrounding towns and communities. For a nation of beautiful, nature-loving, caring and considerate folks happily living simply in their surroundings with whatever is provided for them, their situation is dire. When I asked Anthony if he was going to try to move to another country, he told me no.
"I will stay and rebuild. I already lost everything, so why run away? My business name is already established, so it will mean something when I rebuild."
No one knows how long it will take for this very special place to heal and begin a new way forward, both physically for the land and emotionally for the citizens. It could take at least a year or longer for Anthony to finish construction on his home and new restaurant location, and at least that long or longer for tourists to begin visiting there again. In the meantime, I am asking each of you to think about donating $5, $10 or more to this cause and help an impressive young entrepreneur rebuild his life and his dream. I will be wiring Anthony the funds collected to use for new construction and other necessities of getting back on his feet.
Thank you for reading this,
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