If you dream it, you can do it, has been my motto for a long while now. Starting off as a wish to help Dominica after the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, the foundation is now a fully up and running non-profit. Until the pandemic shuts everything down, I have run 3 programs in classrooms in 2 primary schools. Yet, my dream is more significant than that; for a very long time, I have had a vision of our own building, and finally, my dream is becoming a reality.
In November of 2021, a straightforward question led me to find our Breadfruit House. I was driving home, after a Rotary meeting, with a fellow Rotarian. It is a long drive, and we always have things to talk about. He asked me my plans for 2022, and my answer was to find a suitable building for my non-profit. Even before he answered me, I knew this was a defining moment. I cannot explain how I knew I just did.
We discussed what I was looking for, location, rent, etc. Eventually, he told me I know a building; let me show you and decide for yourself. It happens to be very close to where I currently live.
Is this the perfect house?
After looking at the house from the car, in the dark, I already had a good feeling about it. I contemplated it for a few days and decided to ask for a tour. That would allow me to see if my intuition was correct if my dream is becoming a reality with this property.
A long time ago, a friend told me, Marieke, when you choose a house or building, make sure you feel safe and at home there. The children will sense if you don’t, and it will make them feel unsafe or uncomfortable too. I always keep that advice in mind.
I have been offered other locations, none of them were suitable. Someone once suggested a big piece of land to build off-grid. I did appreciate the offer; however, the land was a 20-minute walk from the main road. Bringing children there would be a nightmare, and I could not see myself living there on my own in the middle of nowhere.
The guided tour.
Early November, I was invited to come and see the property from the inside. When I entered through the front door, I knew my dream was becoming a reality. You step into a large living room, divided into two areas by a supporting beam when you enter the house. I immediately saw the perfect space to have all the children sit at a long table, eating and doing their work.
The reading nook will be in the slightly smaller part of the living room. I am sitting in a nice comfy chair, colorful cushions for the children to sit on while reading one of the many great books to them.
The kitchen is spacious and has a sizeable pantry. More than enough room to cook for everyone. Behind the kitchen is a lovely porch with a garden view with fruit trees and the sea in the distance. I can almost see the roof of my current house from there. I can see myself sitting there in my rocking chair at night, enjoying the cool breeze.
There is enough space for an office and a storage room for all materials. And these rooms can double as spares bedrooms when needed.
So, where will I be living?
Upstairs is a small apartment, fully equipped with everything I can possibly need. In Dominica, most stairs to apartments are outside, which is horrible when it is raining. Fortunately, here the stairs are inside. I have my own space with the comfort of just having to walk up the stairs indoors.
I could not be happier with how everything is working out. My dream is becoming a reality for sure.
Due to different circumstances, I have lived at 6 different places since coming to Dominica in 2016. This will be my 7th address; I hope to stay here for a very long time. I wrote a Blog about all the different and sometimes outright horrible places I lived in Dominica. Click here to read it.
What’s next, you ask?
Well, moving house is what is first on my schedule. In Dominica, there are no moving companies that help you with packing, moving and unpacking. You do this with the help of your friends. I have already started organizing all the donations, so I know what is in which box. The last time I moved was a few months after the hurricane, and my life fit in 2 suitcases. I remember putting everything in those 2 suitcases and putting all the large empty water bottles in a huge garbage bag. Those are for storing water in case of a hurricane threat. A few construction workers from my workplace came and loaded everything on the back of a pick-up truck. And less than 45 minutes later, everything was in my new living room, and I was back at work.
We do need a large storage room
This time will be similar because friends with a pick-up truck will help me move. I just have a lot more stuff this time, more clothes, more materials for the foundation, more everything, basically. That is why I have started sorting, donating what I no longer need, and packing now. My living room is beginning to look like a wholesale at the moment. I am blessed with multiple friends who have offered to come and help, either with packing or with moving.
And then the fun part begins.
After everything has been moved and unpacked, the fun part can begin. Thinking of how to set up the space for the children. How to decorate and make it inspiring and inviting. Setting up my office, so it will no longer be in my living room. Sewing the cushions for the reading nook and researching ideas for storing and displaying all the books.
And with all that, my dream is becoming a reality. My vision of working with children, helping them express themselves through creativity. In a safe, inspiring, and inviting environment. And in the evening, I can enjoy the cool air and think of how fortunate I am that I get to do this. And how grateful I am for everyone who supports me in this journey.
Call to action.
I will keep you updated on the progress in the Breadfruit House. It feels incredible to be able to say this now. To make the House a success, we need your help. Especially with schools still closed, the need for psycho-social support for children has become even more critical. With your donation, more children will be able to tell their stories. Visit our website for more information on how you can help, or click on the link below this Blog. Help us change the lives of the children of Dominica by allowing them to participate in our program.
See you at my next Blog, from the Nature Island