You may recall that our family arrived in Bermuda as “refugees’ after Hurricane Irma devastated our home and island of Tortola back in September 2017. At that time Bermuda really did come to our rescue.
As we begin to count down the days left of our nine-month stay with you, our hearts are heavy with gratitude. We cannot begin to thank you all enough for the way we have been treated by each and every person we have encountered.
Initially, with one piece of hand luggage, we were met by a very kind and welcoming immigration officer at LF Wade International Airport, followed by a smiling taxi driver, who met us with toothbrushes and some basic overnight supplies. We were housed with great speed by landlords who vacated their home within hours of our arrival especially to accommodate our family.
From there, your “Bermuda welcome” continued to grow. The welcoming administration at Warwick Academy and smiling teachers embraced our children, uniformed them and got them school-ready again within two days of our arrival. Meanwhile, understanding doctors, paediatricians and orthodontists saw to our normal, continuing needs — from braces to subscription pills. All of this was done under the understanding that we had no records to present.
Some of your big Bermuda stores extended a special “hurricane discount” for a few months until we could equip ourselves with basic needs, with helpful and friendly shop assistants keen to hear how we were getting on. It did not take long before driving lessons and the process of purchasing a vehicle was imminent. Although a lengthy process, it was made ever-pleasant by gracious staff and lovely personalities, whom one got to know during the TCD visits.
Within weeks, each member of our family had found a circle of friends and an existence outside the essential realm of life. We were welcomed into gym and sports circles, and have been able to continue to play or pick up again what we used to do in the British Virgin Islands with a great new set of friends.
As a new family to Bermuda, we have tried and experienced, we hope, most of what Bermuda has to offer — everything from administrative necessities to sightseeing, boating, whale watching, shopping and beach walking. We have even experienced a speeding ticket.
Our most recurring observation has been how innately kind, civilised and friendly everyone is here.
The most important thing we take away with us is a great memory of this country’s kindness and helpfulness in our time of need. From senior person to youth, and from all walks of life and professions, you should all be proud to have been able to help and proud of what you have done.
It is with very heavy hearts that we wind down our stay here and prepare to leave back to our BVI, where life must go on. Although not perfect there, we hope to bring back some lovely Bermuda traits of friendliness and courteousness. You Bermudian people have been truly welcoming and gracious, courteous and helpful.
We truly believe that there would be more world peace if it were populated with more Bermudians.
Thank you Bermuda. We were proud to be Bermudian.
JEANNETTE FORTE AND FAMILY