Sonise Momplaisir
Sonise Momplaisir

Nestled in the lush greenery of Dominica's breathtaking topography, her charming people are the foundation of welcoming communities. They are among the many wonders discovered by those who have relocated to the island and made it home.

A medical student at All Saints University, Sonise Momplaisir, from Haiti, has called Dominica home for 14 years.

Speaking to The Sun Newspaper, Sonise shared why her family moved to Dominica.

"I first visited Dominica in 2010," she said. " My dad relocated here in 2000, and my mom was already here and recently had surgery, so we came to visit her and decided to stay."

As a young child, Momplaisir clearly recalls her first thoughts of Dominica.

"Being from Haiti, which is very busy and loud, Dominica was quiet and green", said Sonise. " I love nature, so it was like home instantly, which was a weird feeling: to adapt to a new place so easily and call it home."

Dominica's calming environment appealed to Momplaisir for another reason.

"Not long before we came here, we experienced the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, so it was nice to be in a quiet, violent-free zone."

An added captivating feature she unearthed was the plentiful harvest from the land.

"It felt like the trees grow abundantly. I would see trees filled with mangoes, and I have always been fascinated by how much fruit and soil yields are produced," she said.

Outside of the physical features, Momplaisir admits she loves Dominica's Creole season: the food, music, dance, and attire.

While feeling safe in the Nature Isle, Sonise had her fair share of adjustments to life here.

"Everything was different, even the music and dance," Sonise chuckled. "I was used to Kompas and Zouk, but here it was: Cadence-lypso, which I still can't dance to; Bouyon, which I found weird; and Calypso. The biggest adjustment, however, was the children. I came here when I was ten years old, and it was not very welcoming. I experienced a bit of bullying, but I stood my ground and eventually made a lot of good friends."

Momplaisir is preparing for her Step One exams, allowing her to practice medicine overseas. Though she is swamped with schoolwork, she is determined to contribute to her community and wider society.

"I am part of the Red Cross committee but not very active because of school. In church, I give back during vacation Bible school," she said. " Also, I have been planning a programme with my friend called Each One Teach One, where we mentor and help struggling school children with their homework."

As a medical student, she also wants to create a movement to raise awareness of health issues in Dominica. "I want to start a programme to educate women on breast conditions and STIs (sexually transmitted infections)," she said. "When I talk to women, I feel many don't know much about STIs and how they link to cancer. Also, several women think if you are on a contraceptive pill, you cannot get an STI, and that is very wrong. Some women are not aware of the importance of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, which prevents a lot of cancers, something we are seeing in our young women."

Sonise's health action plan is not limited to women, though. "Lack of physical activity leads to DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which causes clots in the legs, and I see a lot of this happening. These are areas I want to focus education on all over Dominica. I want to give back to my community and country."

The medical student is urging Dominicans to support her venture when it comes on stream.

"When I start this programme, I would like the public's support in any way possible. Word of mouth goes a long way in promoting and educating people on health matters."

Sonise Momplaisir has seen many changes in Dominica during her time here but remains grateful that the country is still quiet, calm, and relatively violence-free.