Last month I had the good fortune of spending 10 days in Puerto Rico meeting with NECHAMA staff, volunteers, and the families we are assisting. As with each trip to the island, my time spent among the residents was heartening and transformational. Despite the heat, the bugs, and the hard days’ work, the spirit of the island and of our volunteers and staff shown through time and time again – and the love and warmth of the families we were helping was overwhelming.
In Bayamón, I spent time at the homes of two brothers living across from each other. They had made their living selling fish and did much of the work in a room in the back of one of the brother’s homes. As they showed me around, walking past the dozens of ducks and geese that lived in one of their yards, they showed me the room which has been their livelihood for so many years, now unusable, filled with damaged goods, and unhealthy to be in – let alone work in.
I was inspired by the kindness demonstrated by these families who have experienced such hardship. They made each and every person feel at home and special, either through a handshake and a wide welcoming grin, a hug, or a fried snack to keep up spirits and energy.
These brothers represent just a fraction of the households still in need throughout the island – bringing clarity to the importance of the work NECHAMA is doing in Puerto Rico. As I left the island, I felt renewed hope – that despite the enormity of the work ahead of us, we can continue to make a difference, bringing hope and comfort to those in need, as we engage in Tikkun Olam and repair the world.