‘I want to bury my family’

Sitha Silien fears she may never be able to bury her mother and brother who both died during the passage of Hurricane Dorian two weeks ago.

“I don’t want my mummy’s body to just stay there like that,” Silien, 27, said yesterday outside the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.

“Even her bones, if I find them, I want to cremate them.

“I want to bury [them] on my own.”

Silien said she and her brother tied up their mother’s body somewhere in the Haitian shantytown the Pigeon Peas, to prevent it from floating away.

She said if the government doesn’t want her to bury her relatives then they should at least recover her mother’s bones and store them in the morgue.

Silien, who said she was born in The Bahamas to Haitian parents, spent her early years in Haiti, but moved back to The Bahamas in 2003.

She, her mother and her brother were trying to escape the surge that flooded Pigeon Peas and find higher ground in the middle of the storm, but her mother never made it to safety.

“My mom passed in my hand, next to me,” she said.

“She got hit with I think a piece of wood. It was so dark, but I noticed when the thing [hit her] on her head.

“I said, ‘Mummy.’ She didn’t say nothing.

“My brother was next to me. She was holding my hand and she was holding my brother’s hand, because my brother had tied a rope around our waists, and my nephew was over my brother’s neck. I could float, but I couldn’t swim.

“I was telling mummy to put her head down, but my other cousin was pulling on me, and all of a sudden I heard the thing fall, and mummy said nothing. She had these white things on her mouth, and we couldn’t get her up. My brother was screaming, ‘Let’s tie her. Let’s tie her so she wouldn’t go.’

“I said, ‘Nothing we could do about the body right now. Let’s try to carry the body.’

“But he said, ‘Where we going to carry the body? Let’s tie it up.’”

Silien said they were trying to get to a nearby hill and then go into the government complex in Marsh Harbour. They made it, but her brother turned back to look for their father and never returned.

“We reached there,” she said.

“They said the eye was passing over. Everybody was rushing. Then my brother ran away. He said, ‘I’m coming back. I’m going to look for Daddy.’

“But then people came to say my brother dead. They said they could carry me to where he is.”

Silien said when she went to the new Haitian Seventh Day Adventist Church she saw her brother’s body under a big piece of wood.

“…His leg was in the front and his head was on his knees,” she said.

Silien said she lost several family members in the hurricane – two cousins, her uncle, her brother and her mother. She is worried that her mother’s body will never be recovered because of how difficult it was to get to.

“No cars can drive through there,” she said.

“I know no cars can drive through there because I went back and saw mummy.

“She was already swell. She was ready to burst. So, they said they can’t help me move the body because they didn’t want it to burst around us.

“I know my mummy still down there, because ain’t nobody going to be walking through the wood, because there are plenty nails and stuff and everybody is rushing.”

Silien said she just wants closure.

“I can’t hear from them no more, but I want to see their bodies for the last time,” she said.

She added, “It has me thinking. What’s eating mummy’s body right now?”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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