The stories of Ma Hanilia: by Dr Renata Klocke
She tells me that Felicitas is her name when I sit to chat with her for the first time. They all seem to have a pet name and an official name, which no one really is sure about. Everybody calls her Ma Hanilia.
Two weeks before Maria hit Dominica she had surgery for cancer and was just released from the hospital back to her little wooden shed in the mountains, where she lived alone in poverty. She tells me that she had not even money to buy herself some bread. When hurricane Maria hit, she had no idea. No one had told or warned her. The wind picked up, she closed the windowshutters. But the wind increased and increased. Her house was shaking and shaking fiercely, in her despair she decided to crawl underneath it and lie down flat on a wooden plank. Rain fell heavily, more and more the whole, endless night through, finally the shed collapsed on her, but because she was lying between two rocks, thshe wasn’t crushed. However, the flooding soaked her for hours and after it came the mud. the muss came she was soaked and shaking, when the mud slide came down on her.
She was found the following day, when a neighbor came to check on the house. She had sat up. The sun had dried the mud. Like a mud statue, in a state of shock.
When they took her to the shelter, she was catatonic and didn’t speak for two months. Now, in January 2019, 16 months after Maria, when I sit beside her she says “hello, sweetheart”, and she tells me her story. She has nowhere and no one to return to. Her daughter is somewhere far away, she says.
When I come in the be=venting to say good night to her, I find her sleeping on. ]a mattress on the floor in a corner of the hall. I learn that she has an alcohol history and spent many years on the street. Maybe a proper room makes her feel locked in. She spends the morning walking down the village road and chatting to people, the rest of the day you will find her sitting on the front balcony and watching the sea afar. Her home is here, in the shelter, where young and old live together with respect and love. It is most amazing.