PUERTO RICO NEWS - Maria

                     

An rscj in Haiti writes 

Maria….+ 118 ….as if it had been yesterday….


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Cantera is one of the barrios on the fringes of Santurce, where we live.
Way back in the ‘70s some of our sisters started a Center that offers a variety of services, especially to the elderly and the very young.
I volunteered for four years to work with pre-K children.

During the last two weeks I have visited Cantera several times
with the one sisters who still works at the Center.
What did we find, whom did we meet?

Antonia, who lives with her two handicapped children. One of them is blind. Their house was flooded and of course, mattresses were drenched, clothes soaked… At the moment her biggest problem is that, with no electricity, she can barely do all the wash that is needed. But, no complaints. She only asked for adult pampers, but it may be possible to give them new mattresses as well.



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Sonia and her handicapped daughter Naomi, who only have one bed for the  two of them,  and who live in a house where the ceiling leaks everywhere.



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They get wet when it rains.

 

 

Joanna is rebuilding the top floor of her house, cement brick by cement brick, with the money she and her husband earn by selling lunches and sodas.


Esperanza, whose son died two days before Christmas due to a lung condition.
With no electricity, no oxygen…not even a fan.
His is one of the Maria-related deaths the government refuses to acknowledge. Needless to say, Esperanza is very depressed.
She asked for paint to cheer up the house, but the request is not so simple to fulfill as the house has to be cleaned first with a pressure hose and there is no electricity.



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One of my classmates had received some money from her cousin’s CCD class in North Carolina. She gave some of it to Esperanza, and Pura, the RSCJ who works in the Center, took her to Kmart. Esperanza bought a pair of shoes, a blouse and jeans, underwear …but set some money aside to give to her neighbor who has hooked her up to her generator so that she can have some light at night.  I was deeply moved by this gesture.



Melissa works but has not been paid for months. She lost everything in her house, and is living with her son at her mother’s. A person who is emptying her late aunt’s apartment will bring her everything useful.


Inés and her husband Jorge lived in a house perched on a strip of land on the very edge of Cantera. Now they live among debris. They are, literally, squatters, so no agency can help them.  When Maria struck, Inés was blown out of the house, into the street.

Jorge has tried to shore up the walls with some plywood and put up a roof with the iron sheets he bought with the $200 they were given by FEMA. They live in the one room that offers some shelter, but they get wet when it rains.

Again, just facts. No recriminations or complaints. Pura had told them that we would come to visit them. So they bought a bag of ice and had cold water for us. I wept as I accepted it.


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Why am I showing you all of this?
I am afraid that too much is being said about the hopeless situation that is Puerto Rico.
I just want you to see a bit of the courage, determination, and yes, deep suffering.
But the main reason is that to tell you, once more, that I am in a privileged situation “to learn from others the way of the Beatitudes", as  Chapter 1970 stated so well.