I wanted to update everyone on our Make a Difference Day efforts. The deadline came and went and we helped very few people, but on the last day, I received an email from a viewer who gave me a couple of names of scrapbooking groups in Puerto Rico. I contacted them and we now have eleven women we can help..Five in one group and six in the other. If anyone is still interested in helping, I’ll be sending boxes to these women and they will be getting together, hopefully, in December to open their boxes. I asked for a photo to post here on Facebook, so viewers can see the results of our efforts. I’m also posting an email I got from one of these women as to the conditions there as of today, almost two months after the initial storm.
Here’s her email.
I had no internet until today. Your email made me cry. There is a saying here: “Los buenos somos más “ that roughly translates “we, the good people, outnumber the bad ones” and you and your friends are of the good and great ones. We are a group of 6 girls. We are Myrna, Helda, Lucy, Evelyn, Ena and me.(I had asked about replacing items that were destroyed, like refrigerators and furniture and if the prices had been affected by the storm. I also asked if what we were hearing about the people who live in the mountains was accurate. That they are not receiving help as crews can’t get to them.)
Answering your questions, yes: prices are skyrocketing and we have to be more selective of what we buy. As you say, people in the rural areas are still struggling, rebuilding is difficult. Because here we have mountains, the landslides broke bridges and roads and its difficult for trucks and heavy machinery to reach those areas. The efforts are being made, but the advance is slow. The first weeks were terrible because the combination of the destruction and the high demand for diesel and gas created a shortage. Trucks with heavy machinery and supplies were not able to move. The piers were not working and the ships could not get in: I made an 8 hr line to get 30$ of gasoline,for my car (I have a small Toyota so I could fill her up, but my husband has a big pickup truck and for 30$ only could fill it halfway–30$ was the limit we could purchase). Now the gas thing is easier, still lines but shorter. Not because there are low supplies of fuel, but because the gas stations are not working full hours because they are operating with generators.
Because the bureaucracy is so big and so crippling, the help is very very slow. For example, my aunt (mami’s sister) lost everything. She was left only with the clothes on her back. And the help she received was through small initiatives like churches and groups of people and, of course, us. FEMA went to the remains of her house, put a sticker there and nothing else yet -almost two months after the second hurricane. On the other hand, one of our friends lost the roof of half of his house and already received about 1000$ of FEMA’s money.
Many, many people here organized to help each other. And that is how we are getting back on track. The electricity thing is a nightmare. We (at my house) are 4 people. My husband and I, and our two daughters. My daughters are adults but still live with us because they are in college and I live about 30 minutes away from the university. We are still without electricity but now (for the last 10 days) have running water. We were without water and I had to go and get water and wash clothes by hand (very difficult task, let me tell you) as my grandma did in the country in the 1920’s. We have no internet at home and it is difficult for my daughters to do their homework. even though the professors are aware of the situation, there is work to be done and we have to go to public hotspots (like almost everyone here) to try to find internet. we got a small generator that my husband gets on the pickup and takes it to work (he has a pool cleaning business and because many houses are without power he has to supply the electricity so he can keep cleaning the pools), and with that now i am using the washing machine-an appliance I never though I was going to miss that much. I have a small office fridge and now I connect it several hours each day (the normal fridge needs more energy and obviously the generator will consume more gasoline), and now I can have cold groceries in the house. I moved a small table to the balcony of my house and try to get something done when I have daylight but haven’t been able to finish a whole card yet. I know I need the crafting therapy because, Sandy, I’m still having nightmares of the winds and haven’t been capable of watching a video of the hurricane because I start to cry and my stomach turns. But I know the worst has passed and we are recovering.
With so many scams and so many dishonest people I want to get you evidence of who we are and that what I am telling you is the truth. You can share my story as the story of one of the people who had it better here: we are all healthy, my house is ok and even with less hours I have a job. There are people here who lost their jobs or their businesses, people who lost all their furniture because water entered to places no one ever imagined and were not catalogued as flood areas, people who lost family members because they couldn’t get medical attention on time due to road blockages, people who died because without electricity they couldn’t receive oxygen or get dialysis. In the news maybe you saw (I have no idea, I don’t have electricity to watch TV) are of the fights between the major and the president or of the illegal contracts. But it is good for the people to see the reality of one regular, working class family, as it is for thousands of families here.
I won’t get tired of thanking you and your generosity,

(Back to me.)  One additional note about Puerto Rico and Janet, the lady whose email is above.   She has six ladies in her scrapbooking group and gave me their names. Because of the lack of electricity and communications on the island, she has not been in contact with her friends yet. She is hoping that she will be able to talk to them soon. The other group I mentioned is the same way…they have no way of communicating with each other, still, after two months. I forgot to mention that if you are interested in helping with this project, please email me at saundralparker@yahoo.com….Thanks so much for all the help you’ve already given. Sandy

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