Before Irma life was easier because I had a washing machine, now I wash everything by hand. I’m worn out. I’ve just got the roof done, but it ain’t finished fully…I care full-time for two of my children who have mental health issues, but the facilities for them ain’t no good on Barbuda, like in Antigua. And every month I have to pay to go Antigua to get my pension because of having no bank on Barbuda. We need those things here.”
Mary was one of the passengers aboard the ferry on our first trip to Barbuda. She was making the 61.5 kilometre journey from Antigua to Barbuda with furniture for her home. I was fortunate enough to meet her in the street several days later. I mentioned that I’d been admiring her tiered tables. We talked about the slow progress of making a house a home again, especially given the expense of the 90 minute ferry trip. I walked back the mile or so to her house from the nearest shop with her and her son. I returned the next day to ask if she would be willing for me to take her portrait. At that moment she was doing an enormous amount of laundry for her family by hand, as her washing machine had been destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Like most people on the island, sometimes she had water, sometimes not. We agreed I’d come back the next day when she had finished. When I arrived that day she was undertaking the washing of the family’s dishes and sat patiently with wet hands waiting to get back to the ongoing chores made more difficult after the hurricane.