We met many extraordinary people in the 18 months we spent in Puerto Rico. Among them, Sol and her son Angel stand out for their openness and willingness to share who they are with us – an identity fortified by a fierce love for their community.
Sol and her 27-year-old son Angel are warm, welcoming, thoughtful, and generous, just to scratch the surface. Most of our conversation was channeled through Angel, a strong English speaker, who would pause occasionally to translate for his mother.
Getting to know this family began as our interactions with homeowners normally do – details about the family, careers and so forth. However, a discussion that was initially aimed at understanding the events of their own story quickly changed focus. When asked about the damage to their home, they assured us it was minimal compared to what many other Puerto Ricans had experienced and continue to live through. More concerned with the well-being of others, Angel spoke of neighborhoods still dark at night due to hurricane-damaged street lights that have yet to be fixed, and families who continue to live in tarped homes. After listening to their concern for neighbors they felt needed our help more, we were shocked when we finally saw their home– they had received major damage to the roof and windows, including many of the rooms on the second floor. Sol enthusiastically expressed her gratitude for our help with repairs to the home and said that paying for it on her own would have been impossible given the economic struggles she faced in the wake of the storm.
Speaking with Sol and Angel provided a first-hand perspective of life in Puerto Rico, the realities of being a US territory and the ongoing difficulties of what it means to recover from a disaster. Our Staff met Sol by canvassing her neighborhood looking for people in need of assistance. In her words, she “saw the heavens” when our volunteers arrived that first day.
As Angel walked us out to our car at the end of the day, he said, “I’ve lived here 27 years, and I want to live here for the rest of my life. If I hit the Powerball, I’d buy the neighborhood and create an organization to take care of the people.”
You may not have won the Powerball, but a donation today to support our work will make a difference in the lives of people just like Sol and Angel.