Hey everyone, sorry for the late post - internet just now came back into my life!
I woke up this morning in a little bungalow about 10 minutes from the airport.
I packed up and headed down to the office area, which is the only place there is
internet there. I started to go about my morning routine - it’s Wednesday, so I
usually gather up all my notes from the week and prepare the weekly chat. This
week I had internet about 5% of the time, so I’m not going to be able to give much
of a dinar update.
Suddenly I realized I’m only an hour away from takeoff and I still have to return
the rental car! I grab my things and make it to the airport with 45 minutes to go
until my flight leaves.
Here’s the river that rose during TS Erika and took the airport out of commission:
As I got to the rental office, the lady checks the car and notices it isn’t full. I missed
the gas station, and now I only have 30 minutes before my flight leaves. “Tirty
minutes love, dat’s plenty time! Gas station is only 5 minutes up the road, go so
I don’t have ta charge you."
Island time… lol! Ok, I figure I’ll trust her.
It takes me 12 minutes round trip to race to the gas station, fill up, and get back.
Another 3 minutes and I was checked out and headed to security with 15 minutes
till takeoff at 8:30!
It’s currently 8:46, I’m sitting in the Melville Hall airport waiting on the 8:30 flight out
of here…island time is really something else. It took all of 3 minutes to get through
security at about 8:20. There is no internet, or food, or bottled water anywhere. The
storms basically demolished 75% of the airport, and there’s really only one small
working terminal that can be used. My plane hasn’t even came in, much less unloaded
the last passengers. I’m starting to doubt that I will make my connection in Antigua,
which means I’ll be that character that was stuck in the airport for months… oh well,
I really do love a good adventure!
This will be the third update on our mission to help those in Dominica. Now that the
money was raised, shipping logistics sorted, and our goods in the container… it’s time
to find a home for it. (You didn’t think we could just ship it and let it find it’s own way to
the people, did you?! )
Originally I started off by calling churches in the area. They all sounded very friendly
and appreciative, expressing their gratitude for our generosity and kindness. Gratitude
is one thing, capability is another… so I decided it would be best to go to Dominica and
find out first-hand who would do the best job with our gifts. I also thought it would be
prudent to not hand it all over to one individual organization - for example, if we just
gave the entire container to the Catholic Church in the capital city of Roseau, it’s safe
to assume that the Catholic community in Roseau would get preference from them.
That’s not what we had in mind, of course.
(8:52AM - I think the plane just got in! I might make it after all whoop! Whoop!)
As it turns out, a majority of the churches simply didn’t have the capability to unload a
container at the port, and the bishops and priests I spoke to at the Catholic Church
were too busy to talk to me on my schedule, insisting that I “call the office” and just
let them handle it. Tsk, tsk, tsk… one thing I will note here is that with the Catholic
church having about 70% of the population as theirs, the authorities in that organization
seem very full of themselves and really important. It wasn’t a nice feeling talking to them,
almost like I was bothering them with our petty efforts and we should have just given
them money. I'm sorry, but I don't work that way.
As usual, going in person rather than trying to accomplish everything over the phone was
the right decision. The 2nd hotel I stayed at was owned by an active member of the Rotary
Club, and I was put in contact with a few people in Roseau. Those led to other contacts and
at the end of the trip, I am VERY satisfied with the two organizations that will be distributing
the goods: The Rotary Club of Roseau and Lifeline Ministries.
A little about Dominica… if you ever make it here, and get the least bit carsick - you’ll want
to take something for that! The roads are nothing but series of switchbacks through miles of
tropical rainforest. You honk as you go around corners in the daytime to let hidden oncoming
traffic know you are there. At night you can see the headlights of oncoming traffic, but you
miss the amazing flora and fauna of this beautiful mountain island. There are rivers
EVERYWHERE - on the hour+ drive from Portsmouth to Roseau, I personally saw many
bridges that were washed out, and the road diverted to the side where temporary bridges
had been set up. I believe the bridges were brought over from Martinique, a neighboring island
that has been a huge help to Dominica.
Here are some of the bridges and landslides I saw:
But don’t let that discourage you from coming here! Here is some of what you can expect,
in addition to quite literally the nicest people I have ever met in all my travels. I have never
felt so safe anywhere in the world. I mean literally so safe that I stopped at roadside shops,
in the dark, on poorly lit side streets, surrounded by strangers… and every single time I was
greeted with nothing but kindness and friendly words. Those are situations where you’re
likely to be robbed in other places… but not Dominica.
Back to the groups I chose to handle our operation on the ground in Dominica:
Both of the representatives I met with are very likeminded and aligned with what we wanted
to accomplish. I learned that the government is telling all the aid groups to simply give them
any goods received, yet they have warehouses full of rotting food due to their incompetence
(like most government programs). Rather than do that, the Rotary Club and Lifeline Ministries
are connected with other NGO’s (Non Governmental Organizations) throughout the island,
and they believe in serving personally. They will separate, bag, and box the items we have
sent, and give them to the families personally.
I wish I had a camera on their faces when I showed them the list of things we are sending:
1750 lbs of flour - (70) 25# bags
2250 lbs of long grain rice - (45) 50# bags
2000 lbs of long grain rice - (80) 25# bags
(960) 15oz cans of black beans
(960) 15 oz cans of kidney beans
640 lbs of brown rice - (64) 10# bags
2250 lbs of jasmine rice - (90) 25# bags
720 Quarts of canola oil
720 Quarts of vegetable oil
(800) 15oz Chicken Soups
7200 Super Large MAXI (pads? I don’t know about these things!)
8640 Tampax Pearl regular
41760 Huggies baby wipes
6264 size 2 diapers
8910 size 3 diapers
5400 size 4 diapers
One of our contacts specifically said “I am so happy to see pads on that list - I was in the
maternity ward the other day and there were none!"
I’m not sure what more I can say about this… it’s a job well done, and I have every bit of
faith that our items will go to those most in need and will not be wasted. They promised
to send pictures later, so the 4th and final update on this endeavor will include those pictures.
To everyone that helped… you’re amazing, and I thank you for teaming up with me on
this. We really did a great thing here!
P.S. 9:08AM - I was wrong earlier. NOW my plane has landed. I am pretty sure I’m going
to be stuck in Antigua… oh well, at least it’s not Detroit!