LaShawn's Move: Puerto Rico to ATL

Hello Everyone, I've started this Go Fund Me for my closest and dearest friend, La Shawn who, through the years, has become closer than a sister. She is one the most honest, intelligent, patient, hard-working and wonderful people I know.  Her mind is open, her heart is big, and she's always been the first person to stand up against injustice and speak up for the voiceless.  After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, for the first time ever since I've known her, La Shawn became "the voiceless".  The destruction that left Puerto Rico in complete devastation also left La Shawn radio silent. During this time I prayed every night with a heart full of worry as I listened to the daily missing person and death toll increase in PR. I had no knowledge of my best friend's whereabouts or wellbeing until finally, On Oct 18th,  I received a call from her. I was elated at hearing the sound of her voice again but deeply saddened to learn of the conditions she and her family are living under. Things are NOT alright in PR.  and the people need a voice.  Relocating La Shawn out of the present situation in PR to the States will not only give her her voice back but then She can speak up out loud for the current injustices happening on the island now.  This is what she has to say:

My name is La Shawn Pagán, and I’m writing this in hopes that you can help me and my family.

I currently live in Puerto Rico, which you may know has been recently devastated by Hurricane Maria, and I’m seeking for additional help to relocate to Atlanta Georgia.

For the past five years, I’ve been living on this beautiful island with a limited budget of about $3,000 a month – this has enabled me to care properly for my dad, five dogs and, most recently, a pig named Penelope. While it’s not much to be able to care for such a brood, I’ve managed for the most part. Now, after Maria has devastated our island, I was finally able to convince my father to move to the States, where I can get him a nurse while I work a part-time job and further stabilize our financial situation while ensuring I continue to care for him.

Why am I reaching out to you, if there are agencies in place for that sort of thing? Well, the honest truth is that FEMA, The Red Cross and other Federal Agencies that are meant to help those displaced and/or affected in any way by the hurricane are not reaching every one of us. The area I live in (the Cerro Gordo area of the municipality of Vega Alta) has not received any help whatsoever. Despite published reports, the first time I saw Oscar Santiago, Mayor of Vega Alta, was 15 days after the storm hit and he was giving out a bag of “groceries” that included an MRE, 4 packets of grape juice, one 1lbs bag of rice, 1 12oz. bag of tomato sauce, 4 cups of sugary cereal, 4 bottles of water, 1 small packet of gummy bears, 1 single packet of Ritz crackers, 5 packets of sugar, 1 can of pink salmon and one carton of Indulac milk (see photo). The first time we heard notification of FEMA being in town was 22 days after the storm, the second was at 25 days after the storm. The first time I saw trucks of picking up debris and fallen trees was at 28 days after the storm, and on the 29th day one of the trucks broke a water main that went straight to the house of one of my neighbors breaking it straight off and leaving her without water. This, I don’t know when is going to be fixed – I also don’t know if the water I have will continue to flow. It was the neighbors who took to the streets to clear the road for access. We (myself included) with machetes, axes, chainsaws, brooms, rakes and everything else in between cleared the main road in and out of Cerro Gordo of fallen trees, wooden lamp posts and water. The days immediately after the hurricane were the worse, and while I had saved plenty of water and had enough provisions – I began to fear once they began to run out and there was no help coming my way. So I took the street and searched for clean water. With the help of a neighbor, I gained access to clean water and filled 4 large buckets and 4 gallons of water. I also began to gather rainwater and filter that for consumption.

One of the things that we (Puerto Ricans) had to do was waiting in long lines; the line to access the ATM was an estimated 4-hour wait, the line to wait for gas was around 7 hours, the line for the supermarket was 1 and a half hour to enter for 5 minutes. It was like that for a few weeks…once things started to “normalize” my daily routine which consists of waking up at 6:00 a.m., washing my face brushing my teeth and subsequently feeding all my pets. By 8:00a.m. I wake my Dad up so he can take his medication and eat breakfast and go out to seek for ice, water or anything we might need for the day. Should we need to, I (hand wash) our clothing and hope that it doesn’t rain. By noon I’m already planning dinner while I’m preparing lunch for Dad. I’ve done this every day for the past five years – I now do this without electricity, a week and a half ago I used to do it without running water AND electricity, so I guess that’s a vast improvement.

Still, while things are ‘normalizing’ there is constant rain which leads to flash flood warnings or just flooding – which leaves our main roads dangerous to drive on and the few (unstable) bridges that are left standing under water. The rains further leave us having to look for alternate routes to get to hospitals, supermarkets, post offices and other places – routes that take me hours to reach places that only took a few minutes. I’ve seen with my own eyes how shocked some American Soldiers are left with the rapid flooding. I’ve driven against traffic because all the lamp posts are on the ground on the other side. I’ve tried my best to keep caring for my father under these circumstances, but I cannot continue to do here when the CEO of the power company announced that Puerto Rico will have power sometime in December.

To further explain why I need assistance in relocating us – my father has several illnesses one of them is the lack of functionality of his liver and he needs to take medication and have easy access to the V.A. Hospital should there be an emergency (and there have been emergencies) but, like I explained above it’s so much harder and dangerous to keep him on the island.

I can and have lived okay on $3,000 a month, but that is not enough to relocate all of us; my father, our pets and myself hence the reason for this petition for you to donate any amount you can to help us, help me move to a more stable and safer environment. Your help will be added to the help of my amazing friends who are working tirelessly to relocate us as well. If you can, please give at least $10 for our cause, it will greatly help us with this. He, I and our pets will greatly appreciate your help. If you cannot help us monetarily and have anything else you can give (e.g. some time when we move to help us settle in, furniture that is in good condition that you don’t want any more) you can donate that too! Anything and Everything helps!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
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Lisa Louis-Marijanski 
Brooklyn, NY
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