Resident battles hurricane Irene

Cheyne Dallyn assists a local in gathering recyclable bottles from the dump. (Photo by Cole Brown, Absolute)

By Ben Ingram

Hurricane Irene was a double-edged sword for one Meadow Lake resident who was in the Dominican Republic on a humanitarian trip when the storm hit.

Cheyne Dallyn joined up with other Absolute Leadership Development volunteers to visit the country and deliver medical services to the disenfranchised. The aftermath of Irene changed that mission from providing medical aid to cleaning up debris and helping to provide people with shelter.

When it came time to head home Dallyn and his fellow volunteers also found that their flights had been cancelled, as the storm had made landfall in New York.

“It would have been very scary for the people in the houses,” Dallyn said, describing the simpler shelters many of the Dominicans in the area of Agua Negra inhabited where the team was working. “Some of those houses didn’t hold up very well, the storm kind of ripped them apart.”

Christal Earle, the co-founder of Absolute said the group had done extensive work in the area building shelters for the needy. The ones most affected by the storm were those who remained in older, lower-quality housing units.

“When we build them we have to build them three feet off the ground, because it floods,” she said, explaining the area’s need for more durable shelter.

The original mandate of the mission was to deliver medical services and supplies, but the storm made that an impossibility (Photo by Cole Brown, Absolute)

While the intent of the mission was to distribute medical services, with most of the volunteers being nurses and doctors, the 21-year-old Dallyn said the experience impacted his pursuit of a career in education.

He has returned to Saskatoon to resume his studies this fall, but he said a young girl in the area he found collecting bottles with her mother at a dump left a lasting impression. The girl and her mother, he said, spent their mornings collecting recyclables to earn three or four dollars a day to help the family.

“Out of that three or four dollars, she (the young girl) would take 50 cents and in the afternoon she would go to school,” he said.

For Dallyn it was a lesson in the value of education and what it means for the those who struggle to pay even the bus fare to get to school.

“It just really showed me how big an emphasis there is and how much people want to get educated in countries like that,” he explained.


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