So glad the weekend is here! Basically every part of my body hurts, but that’s expected and a good thing! A team of four of us has painted nearly all of three classrooms that each has three smaller adjacent rooms this week. We primed and painted everything including ceilings and our arms are super tired, but we are almost done! Pretty much all most of us can do in the evening is drink some Gatorade and collapse, though I try to do some yoga stretches if there’s a dry spot anywhere. It’s been storming a lot and sometimes I feel like my stuff (and especially my feet) will never be dry again. Also I’ve literally never been sweatier or smellier, but I am not alone in that. And lots of groups are working outside roofing and doing siding and such which I will be doing next week, so undoubtedly there are new heights of sweatiness still to be discovered. Enjoying the work and glad to be getting such a workout, but could not take another day right now so really glad it’s the weekend! Everyone else feels the same though and it’s nice to see that I am as strong as everyone or at least average.
Haven’t had a chance to do much more exploring due to constant desire to lie down, but we did have a really interesting talk by our local community outreach staff yesterday. She connects All Hands and the community and helps with the application process for people getting help with home repair from All Hands. It was so interesting hearing her talk about the island and it’s history and the impact of Dorian. She started crying talking about how traumatic it was and how resilient the community has been and how much it has meant to the local people and businesses that have been able to open to have the support of the volunteers here, and that made us cry too. It is really moving to see how the community has come together to move forward after such a tragedy.
We can see the impact for ourselves too, of course. Dorian literally destroyed everything. As far as I can tell, nothing has been repaired, it’s either still destroyed or has been rebuilt. The four buildings of the school we are working on that All Hands has built have been completely rebuilt from the ground. The upper floors of the old buildings were completely ripped off, which must have been terrifying because there were teachers sheltering inside. The new buildings are meant to withstand cat 5 hurricanes, and they do seem really strong, but it’s also hard to imagine anything withstanding whatever ripped all these buildings apart and piled up cars and put semitrailers through roofs and tossed boats into buildings a quarter mile from the water. It’s surreal walking around and this is a year and a half on. There is just so much to do still! The natural devastation is intense too. We’ve been told that the whole island used to smell like mango in mango season (which this is) but we haven’t seen a single fruit tree except some little just starting ones. No mangos at all. At this point 100% of food is having to be imported which is expensive. Not that we didn’t expect this, but hearing that somewhere has been completely flattened in the one of the most intense hurricanes on record and actually seeing what that looks like a year and a half later are two completely different things. Can’t imagine what it must have been like for the All Hands team that got here a week after the hurricane and started clearing roads.
On that note, I’d love to do some fundraising for this amazing organization and incredible community that’s survived the worst that could possibly happen. Even small donations go a long way towards providing the supplies needed to keep building, and $100 provides two sheets of roofing material for a local home that has been without a roof since 2019. It gets harder the longer it has been since a disaster to find big donor funding, but All Hands is going to continue being here doing much-needed work with the locals for a while yet. I haven’t been able to get enough internet to load personal things on my fundraising page, but this link should go to my personal page. If you feel like donating to this beautiful community, an organization that’s truly doing good work, and in a sense to me and my intense tropical boot camp after three years stuck in the house, I would certainly appreciate it and so would the crew here!