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Story and photos by Shahein Fitzpatrick

Hurricane Irma was a category 5 storm early in September 2017, when it impacted Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda, destroyed homes and businesses and caused many people to be homeless.

The entire population of about 1,200 people was evacuated to the mainland.

Three years after this disaster, approximately seven Barbudans are still living in tents.

Patricia D’Souza, Sylvia Walker, and Atkinson Beazer are three of the Barbudans who returned home, having to then adjust to this new life. 

 “I was living in a rent house and the rent house got damaged. When I came back home from staying in Antigua, I got a tent to temporarily live in, but it’s been three years and I am still in a tent,” D’Souza explained.

Walker, who shares similar experiences as D’Souza and the other displaced residents, added: “I feel so fed up, I am fed up with living in a tent. It’s not a nice place to live in; the living conditions are horrible”. 

She continued, “You have rats, you have water filling up the tent when rain falls and we just can’t do anything about it right now. 

Beazer, who has been working tirelessly every day without much assistance to rebuild his home explained that, “The help to rebuild the house is far in coming.

He revealed that in the daytime the tents are too hot and too uncomfortable

“You can’t relax in the daytime, in the night when it gets cold, it’s very cold. When it rains, you can count ever raindrop,” he said.

Beazer expressed that this adversity has challenged him to view life from a different perspective. 

“You definitely learn that human beings can live with very little at a time, you don’t have to have much and that tent has taught me that. I don’t demand much right now.”

The Barbudan who displayed a satisfied and contented heart expressed that, “Some people may find it hard, but it’s not as hard as it looks. You can adapt.”

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