My name is Prince Valcarcel. I'm from Sierra Leone, West Africa, and I've been a New Yorker for 20 years now.
I have your typical immigrant's story. I came here to live my piece of the American Dream. I work hard and every year I send $6,000 to help my many relatives back home with education, clothing, food and medicine. Like most African immigrants I have boxes of MoneyGram receipts. I get happiness knowing the money I send transforms lives in Africa.
I've never asked for a dime. But today I need your help.
On July 27, my niece Yvette Valcarcel who also lives and works in New York went home to Sierra Leone to help bury her father who died recently. I love her. I gave her $4,000 to help with travel and the funeral expense. That was all my savings.
On Monday, August 14, she called me crying. She was the one to tell me about the HORRIFIC mudslide in my country.
They say 800 people have died but maybe more because 1,000 to 3,000 are still missing. My family and Yvette lost six relatives.
Some of them were praying in a church Faith Healing Bible Church/Emmanuel Baptist Church of Matomeh community, Regent, Freetown which my late brother Reverend Sylvanus Valcarcel help found and where he had been the pastor. The church was also hit by the mudslide.
Many of you have seen the terrible news from Sierra Leone in the news.
By God's miracle Yvette survived the mudslide. Yvette went home to bury one person, now she needs to bury and have a funeral for seven. She and our relatives back home cannot manage alone. I have no more savings left.
As I said before I never asked for anything for free. I like to work for everything. But I don't have any money left at this time.
I would like to (1) buy a return ticket and to go Sierra Leone and (2) help with the funeral expenses and with any assistance I can give my surviving relatives (3) cover the cost of my living while there for about one month.
I will volunteer for any search for any missing people while in Sierra Leone.
I am very ashamed that I have to ask. I am used to working for everything. If it makes it easier for anyone who wants to help me I can pay the money back slowly when I come back to New York and start working again.
If you do decide to donate and you want me to pay back one day please indicate so in your note.
I would also ask that you allow me one year to start paying back.
Those who prefer to send a check can do so via: Prince Valcarcel
P.O. Box 200523
South Ozone Park, N.Y., 11420.
(In one of the photos I'm the one on the left in the hat -I am with my co-workers and friends, Antonio Lanzarotta and Melvin Munoz. You will also see Yvette when she was seated on the plane when she left for Sierra Leone. I also included some MoneyGram receipts of when I send money to Sierra Leone. The rest of the photos are from the tragedy).
God Bless New York.
God Bless America.
God Bless Sierra Leone.
I was on Radio yesterday August 22, talking about the Mudslide Tragedy in Sierra Leone on WBAI Radio 99.5 at 7.10 AM "The Morning Show" with Michael G. Haskins. It's archived and you can listen to the interview by playing the whole show or dragging to around the 70 minute mark and listening from that point. Thanks for all the support.
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