The majority of people said to me, "you're the first person who has asked me if I needed help since the hurricane hit". And that was 3 weeks after the storm. Another resounding statement was, "if we waited on the government, we would die, so instead we help each other out and combine our resources". From what I experienced, I can attest to the statement that there is simply not enough government assistance. And if we wait for that to change, it could be too late.
So... friends, family, fellow global citizens...I am asking that we band together and support Puerto Rico. Let's pull our resources together and see what good we can do as a collective people who care. Let's be the light and love that our world so desperately needs.
What are we going to do with the money?? It depends how much we raise...
Our team was able to make many trustworthy local contacts in areas that were hit the hardest and given little help. My plan is to utilize this gofundme to send boxes of much needed supplies such as solar powered chargers, lanterns, tarps, toiletries, water filters, mosquito nets and repellant. Some will go towards rebuilding an orphanage. Other leftover funds will be used to donate to reliable relief organizations such as RN Response Network (the nursing union I was a part of), Samaritan's Purse, Convoy of Hope, and Waves for Water. All of these groups are making an impact on some of the poorer areas that have not received aid and they are all meeting needs in a different way (medical attention, supplies, food, and water, respectively).
What's REALLY going on there?
If you are interested in specifics of what I have personally experienced here is a brief list (and also you can refer to my social media posts):
*Lack of water: Government aide/FEMA is not meeting the needs of Puerto Rico. There are many small communities that have yet to receive assistance. We showed up to FEMA sites where only paperwork was being done and not even provided food or water. Rivers and streams are contaminated with dead animals and broken sewage pipes. Water is limited in stores, given you can afford it in the first place. Costco/Sam’s Club sold out in multiple locations. Bleach, which can sanitize water, is also sold out. Other stores put a limit on the amount you can buy.
*Lack of food: Store shelves are bare. Gas is expensive when you lost your job due to a natural disaster. Many are relying on donated food. Lines are miles long to the stores and many place a limit on the amount you can purchase.
*Limited Electricity: The only electricity I saw was in San Juan. Even that was limited with outages daily. Some have generators, but most do not. People on ventilators are dying in hospitals because of generators failing.
*Lack of Medical Care: FEMA reported that 98% of hospitals are functioning. This is simply not true. I sent a man to an emergency room for a critically high blood sugar and high blood pressure only to find out the next day that he never got the help he needed because that hospital was shut down due to power outages. We then sent him by an ambulance to another hospital an hour away. The majority of people said they could not get to their doctors or that their doctors left town. Pharmacies are price gouging. If you have government health insurance, the pharmacies cannot run your information (no electricity or internet connection) and therefore will not dispense your medication or will ask for cash...and then they hike the prices. One pharmacy charged $140 for a bottle of insulin. Another mother could not get the pain medicine she needed for her son who had cancer.
Thank you all for taking the time to care. Please know that your contributions will really go a long way and will truly make a difference in the lives of Puerto Ricans.
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