‘God brought me through Dorian’: Shelter residents prepare for COVID-19

‘God brought me through Dorian’: Shelter residents prepare for COVID-19
Shelter residents Vedette Louis (left) and Aendo Woolgi (right) speak with senior reporter Royston Jones on March 18, 2020. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Some Dorian survivors residing at the Bahamas Academy Gymnasium shelter say they are relying on God to keep them safe amid growing fears of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in The Bahamas.

“I hear people talking about it, but God will save us,” said Rose Sinkgin, 52, who has resided at the shelter for the last six months.

“I keep praying because God is the beginning and the end.

“If God did not leave me dead in Hurricane Dorian, he can deliver me from this.”

Sinkgin claimed she held legal documents to reside in the country, but her home in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, like so many others, was destroyed.

She said her husband, a body mechanic, continues to seek work, but has been largely unsuccessful.

Sinkgin thanked the government for its support, noting that without it she does not know what would become of her and her family.

The first case of the COVID-19 was confirmed in The Bahamas on Sunday.

Declaring the nation’s response to the pandemic the “greatest national priority”, the government advised the public to avoid large crowds and gatherings, and has cancelled key sporting and national events in that effort.

It’s been more than six months since Dorian ravaged parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama, leaving thousands displaced.

At the shelter on Wulff Road, there are approximately 150 residents.

Many of them congregate for meals and sleep within close proximity to one another.

Children ran around eagerly in the grass around the gymnasium on Tuesday.

Notwithstanding the communal quarters, there was a sense of community as several women gathered in the shade and spoke amongst each other.

A Dominoes delivery vehicle arrived to drop off pizza to several awaiting men.

Sinkgin’s former neighbor in Marsh Harbour — Ruel Valcott — also resides at the shelter.

She did not speak fluent English, but said she has been treated well and the staff have been supportive and encouraging.

“They support us; they give us courage; they feed us; they give us movie shows and play with the children.”

Vedette Louis, 39, a housekeeper, said she has been anxious about reports of the virus.

“I have been thinking about that; dreaming about that,” she said while holding her one-year-old daughter.

“I hope God wash that away. Only God can do something; nobody else.

“Plenty people say do this and do that. It’s too much. You don’t know what to take [on] exactly.

“We are on our phones and the group sends us stuff (information).”

Louis has been unable to find work, but hopes to rent an apartment in the near future.

She said her work permit recently expired.

She is a mother four children.

Her two older daughters — 17 and 19 respectively — and 15-year-old son have returned to Abaco to assist their father rebuild.

Aendo Woolgi, 54, a resident of Abaco, said he is not worried about the threat of COVID-19.

“That’s God who brought me through [the storm],”

Woolgi’s brother died during the Category 5 storm last September.

Asked what he plans to do next, he leaned against the wall and paused for a brief period as if processing.

He then responded flatly: “I don’t know. We don’t know where to go.”

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.