“Material things don’t matter”

Bahamas-based Guyanese teachers grateful to be back home

DPI, Guyana, Monday, September 30, 2019

Bahamas-based Guyanese teachers Cecil and Olive Simon are extremely grateful to be back in Guyana, weeks after Hurricane Dorian destroyed the country they called home for a number of years.

The Simons are the third Guyanese family to return home and were received last evening by Minister of Citizenship, Hon. Winston Felix at the Cheddie Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

Fighting back tears, 59-year-old Cecil Simon said he and his wife Olive are beyond thankful that they are back. The experience, he said, reveals that material things really do not matter. They are grateful for life.  

“I can remember Bahamians making the statement that hurricane Dorian is a levelling experience. Levelling in the sense that you don’t have the high and mighty and the low. Everybody is being reduced to the same thing. We come into this world with nothing, we leave with nothing,” he told the Department of Public Information (DPI), moments after deplaning.

Simon said his family lost everything in the category five hurricane that swept across the Abaco Islands.

Minister of Citizenship, Hon. Winston Felix with the Simon Family

Despite strong building codes, Dorian flattened homes after it made landfall on Sept. 1 with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (295 km/h), making it the strongest hurricane on record to affect the northwestern Bahamas. Four weeks after the storm, Bahamas’ Prime Minister, Hubert Minnis said over 600 persons are still missing.

Minister Felix said the Simon family is the last of 12 individuals who have indicated their interest in returning home.

He said when the government began assessing, the persons were willing to return; more than 100 persons were initially interested. That figure later reduced to 28, then finally, 12.

“Five came the first week [husband, wife and three children] a similar number arrived last week and tonight a husband and wife making it a total of twelve. Others who are interested in coming may have to do so on their own steam because this marks the culminating point of government’s intervention to return Guyanese home,” he said.

Last week, the Cooper family – Vanessa Taite, her reputed husband Stevie Cooper Snr. and their three children were welcomed by Minister Felix and team.

The previous week, the Grimmond family was received by Minister of State, Hon. Dawn Hastings-Williams, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dr. Karen Cummings, Minister of Citizenship, Hon. Winston Felix and Director-General of the Civil Defence Commission, Lt. Col. Kester Craig.


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