Friends in Need!

Jungle Bay, Dominica
Jungle Bay, Dominica

Last October, my husband and I spent a wonderful week on a small island in the West Indies called Dominica. The island is about 290 square miles in size… so it’s quite small! The Dominicans are very friendly and welcoming and mostly live off the land. There is no walmart, super grocery or home depot. It can be difficult to get items imported and most on the island could not afford them at anyway.

We stayed at Jungle Bay and the story behind Jungle Bay is truly a feel good one! Sam Raphael grew up on Dominica, left to attend school and became a successful business person. He had a desire to help the island he loved and to help the islanders to learn trades, have jobs and escape poverty. He created Jungle Bay as a resort to welcome guests from all over to experience the wonder of Dominica while offering the locals a place to work, a chance to learn about business and an opportunity. Jungle Bay hosted many training workshops for locals, collected donations in cash, clothing, books and more for the locals. Jungle Bay made a huge impact on a small island for so many people – locals and guests, too!

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Josh Renkens –  enjoying the local food!

One of the things we loved so much about this island and the people was how happy and simply they lived. They ate fresh, healthy foods they grew, they shared what they had with each other, they did not lock their doors and they did not want for the latest whatever. Surprisingly theft is not an issue on the island because the Dominicans treat each other like family. We fell in love with the island and the people and embraced the lifestyle while we were there. My husband and I are more interested in collecting experiences than things, so this trip for our honeymoon suited our needs with plenty to explore!

Sadly at the end of August Dominica was hit by hurricane Erika. Generally, Dominica is not in the path of hurricanes and has had very few strikes in the past. Hurricane Erika, I have read, was the worst hit for Dominica in 100 years. One entire village was wiped out by a mudslide with several deaths and many more injuries. All the residents of this village were evacuated and they can not go back as their homes don’t exist anymore. Jungle Bay was also seriously damaged and with the mudslides is now on unstable ground. Jungle Bay, built on a cliff, is now in peril of sliding down the cliff and can not be rebuilt sadly.

About five years ago, Nashville was hit by horrific flooding. When that happened, people pitched in and showed up to help. Home Depot and Lowes had what was needed. Homes were fixed and rebuilt quickly. We had government assistance through Fema and insurance companies. We had the infrastructure to rebuild and bounce back. On an island like Dominica, the resources we take for granted just aren’t there. The funds needed for repair just aren’t there. The materials are not easy to get. With roads washed away, even having those materials it would be difficult to transport them. Most of us have some emergency money or access to financial help through loans if we needed it. Most of us could hire a crew to rebuild if our home was damaged. While it may be a burden and financial strain for any of us, we are better prepared for emergencies like this. It is easy to lose sight that we Iive everyday with more than many in this world. At Jungle Bay, employees not only lost their homes but also their livelihood.

My husband and I always planned to go back to Dominica some day. When I saw the pictures of the destruction, I was so saddened and heartbroken for these wonderful people. I was even more saddened to learn Jungle Bay and the village could not rebuild. Villagers could not move back home.  I knew we needed to help financially because we are fortunate and we are able to. I also knew I needed to spread the word so others would know what a wonderful place Dominica is and could help as well. A donation as small as $5 could do a lot for some amazing people in need.

If you would like to help Dominica here is the link:

http://www.gofundme.com/JBDominicaRelief

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