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Beaten, Not Broken!

FeaturesBeaten, Not Broken!

by Rudolph A. Neal

On Wednesday, November 2, 2022, Hurricane Lisa, a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained winds of approximately 85 miles an hour, made landfall in Belize. This hurricane, with a storm surge of 3-5 feet in some areas and wind gusts of up to 95 miles an hour, ravaged Belize, severely battering the Old Capital and other areas in the Belize District, Belmopan, and the Cayo area. After a most gruesome 6 hours of sustained beating and pounding, Lisa left an indelible mark on Belize City, leaving in its wake, total destruction, and utter devastation. While, thankfully, no lives were lost to Lisa’s callous wrath, in the aftermath of the hurricane, myself and many others returned to sheer devastation and destruction. As I walked into my home and witnessed the destruction that Hurricane Lisa caused, just like many others, the tears flowed and gradually dried up as we tried to compose our distraught hearts. But somewhere in the moment between each gasping breath, a powerful voice whispered: you are beaten, not broken!

As I surveyed the damage and took stock of the destruction in Lisa’s wake, one didn’t even know where to begin. But as I looked up to the heavens, the sun beamed majestic and supreme and shone its light of hope for all to see. That was enough to summon that indomitable spirit and will to persevere, which caused me and the droves in my community to draw from our faith and cling to hope and positivity and begin the clean-up and restoration efforts, salvaging as much as we possibly could. It was no easy task, as you focused on the devastation at your own abode, but the hammering from across the street, the banging down of zinc on roofs, the high-pitched brattling of chainsaws, the feverish pace at which neighbors were moving about clearing debris and the soulful gestures of community members coming to assist, were enough to lift spirits and remind us that we may be beaten, but we were not broken.

I was impressed and deeply encouraged by the show of love and support by neighbors and fellow community members. Imagine, many people lost their entire roofs, sustaining water damage to the entire contents of their homes. Some neighbors’ homes were crushed by trees while other residents lost their homes completely. Many others, much like myself, suffered severe flood damage and, after the waters receded, had to deal with that dense mud, which not only has a putrid stench but carries disease and bacteria; in addition to losing appliances and household items. Yet, it was the support of neighbors and fellow community members who came together in a spirit of camaraderie, with love and support; who offered a hand or a tool, or shared their service or an encouraging word, that soothed our soul and helped us get through. This act so touchingly reminded me of the powerful African word, noted by the late great South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Ubuntu: I am because we are,” and it poignantly reminds us that, even in our deepest distress, even when we are beaten, we are not broken.

So, as we look back on the destruction and devastation that Hurricane Lisa left in its wake, we give thanks for life; for we can rebuild what we cannot rebirth. We give thanks for hope that springs eternal and for that indomitable will and indefatigable spirit that summons a people to persevere, even amid adversity. We give thanks for the ability to clean up and restore and for being able to salvage what we can. Though we experienced grave losses, we can, in due time, restore that which is lost and reacquire mundane possessions. We give thanks for the outpouring of love and support from neighbors, community members, friends, and family, both near and far, who aided us in our plight and reminded us that we are not alone. The spirit of support and display of unity in adversity beats rhythms of joy in our hearts, reminding us that we are a people of love and compassion. Jess Adams once wrote, and I paraphrase: “so long as our hearts are beating, we have not been beaten yet”. We are a resilient people, and we will rebound, and we will rebuild stronger and better, for we may be beaten, but we are not broken!

Unchained Reflections Of A Liberal Pragmatist!

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