Aregelia Marvez still remembers the fear she felt when Hurricane Maria hit Marueño, a rural mountain village in the Ponce municipality of Puerto Rico.
“All the water was inside. It was really scary,” she said.
Since the storm, Aregelia has spent most of her time trying to clean and salvage what she can in her house, but it isn’t easy. “I have trouble getting back to normal. I have trouble sleeping and have a lot of stress.”
On top of the challenges and stress that come with rebuilding after a storm, Aregelia is also dealing with a number of medical concerns. She has diabetes, high blood pressure, and other heart issues. “Every day I’ve been depressed thinking how I’m going to get insulin and food.”
She had not received any medical care after the storm, until Project HOPE’s mobile medical team stepped in earlier this week. When the team reached Marueño, they were alerted to Aregelia’s issues and were able to bring her a month’s worth of insulin, donated by Eli Lilly and Company. It was the first insulin she had received in three weeks.
Elsy Benitez-Vargas, a Project HOPE volunteer nurse who focuses on diabetes management, was thankful they were able to reach Aregelia when they did. “I know if she hadn’t received this vial of insulin today she would have gotten very sick,” she said. “We avoided the need for hospitalization.”
It will still take a long time for Aregelia and the rest of the Puerto Rican community to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, but HOPE's efforts have renewed her resolve. “I hope to recover everything that I have, the house, family," she said. "When you are down, you fight for life.”
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