On September 18th, I spent that fateful night huddled by myself in my bedroom in Jimmit. Like so many Dominicans who went to bed that night, we were expecting a hurricane – not a brutal and cruel demon.

I had been working in on a twelve-month volunteer assignment with the Dominica Business Youth Trust (DYBT) with support from World University Services through Global Affairs Canada. September was my third month. Needless to say, that assignment is officially over.

There has never been a time that I have felt so disengaged and sad. Over that short period, I met so many friendly people in Dominica, made so many connections with – in the best way I can say it – really nice people.

One of the things that I relate to folks here in Canada is Dominican’s tendency to say “Good Morning” to everybody, no matter who. How many times was I startled as I made my way to work – by young people – who over and over again greeted me with that beautiful neighbourly gesture! That does not happen here.

You also have a knack to talk to anybody who begins to talk to you. Countless times after initiating a conversation with a stranger, it ended up being an enjoyable and interesting friendly banter as it would be between longtime friends. I have come to repeat to my friends: “There are no fake people in Dominica!”

So, I had to write just to say hi and thank you. I monitor “my” beautiful Dominica daily. Maria may have crushed your buildings, roads, systems, etc. But through your resolve, that will rise again I’m sure.

More importantly, you continue to have a soul and spirit that defines human interaction, community and daily life in a beautiful way. Especially in today’s world, that is unique and priceless. I know you will never let that be destroyed – nor should it ever be replaced.

Rebuild yes – but don’t change beautiful Dominica.

Patrick J Mullin lives in Canada.