Providing a breath of fresh air in Puerto Rico
Project HOPE provided relief for a child coping with respiratory problems in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
HOPE for Mother and Son
Mariza is one of many mothers whose life has changed after Hurricane Maria raged through Puerto Rico in September. Mariza, afraid her wooden house wasn’t stable enough to survive the hurricane, took her three sons to weather the storm with her sister in Ponce. After the storm passed, she returned to her home to find the storm had taken the roof off of the house and all of the household items were ruined by the water. To make things worse, fallen trees had crushed her car.
Since the hurricane, Mariza and her sons have had little access to food, water and phone reception.
“This has affected my life emotionally, physically and financially,” she said. “I feel desperate and shocked, and I am trying to adjust to this new life.” There was no help and she felt very isolated and unadjusted. “I felt fear of the unknown because I have children and I felt very insecure,” she added.
Her 8-year-old son, James, felt the insecurity the most. He started to get sick after the storm, and he was afraid of returning home because he was afraid the storm would come back and take what little was left of the house.
Recently, Mariza and her family were able to reach a food and water distribution center, where Project HOPE was also hosting a medical clinic. Mariza received the supplies she desperately needed for her family and at the same time, she was also able to seek medical care for her son James. Kelly, a member of HOPE’s medical team, diagnosed James with upper respiratory problems caused by the after-effects of the storm. Rotting hurricane debris and other challenges from storm cleanup have presented issues for many in the weeks following Hurricane Maria.
To help alleviate James’ symptoms, HOPE provided James with new medication to help better treat and manage his asthma and allergies.
“You could see the relief in his body language when he was given the medications,” Kelly said.
For Kelly, helping James get the treatment he needed was a powerful reminder about the importance of providing care to families in need after a crisis. “The families of Puerto Rico have no idea how much they changed me. James’ family story helped me remember that life is precious and that we must continue take care of one another. We are their chance of feeling hope again, and shining a light at the end of the tunnel. They need us, and they deserve all we have to offer.”
In spite of all Mariza has lost during the storm, she hasn’t lost hope. “I feel very appreciative and hopeful,” she said. “After receiving our food and water at the distribution point, Project HOPE provided my son with medical services. It is the only organization that I have been able to get medicine from since the hurricane. Project HOPE has been very loving and kind. There is a lot to be grateful for.”