• Ashley Filimon

Puerto Rico Se Levanta

Thank you to everyone who made this possible. We are back home and weren't able to post the last couple of days due to no signal in the mountains of Puerto Rico. We focused our efforts on Ajuntas and Jayuya. We spent one day in and around Ajuntas and another day in and around Jayuya. In Ajuntas, we had the wonderful help of a local, Jorge Nuñez. He helped us identify an area in Ajuntas that had not received aid. This community was a very sweet community located between Ajuntas and Penuellas. Their homes were very damaged and they did not have water or power. In fact, their power and water may not return for months. They were hesitant at first to accept help because they are proud, but as we stayed and talked, they started to accept. We distributed food for one week to each family along with a solar lamp and polar fleece jackets. Yes! Polar fleece - the mountains get cold at night. Jorge and his wife were gracious people and fed our team the most amazing rice pudding for lunch. We really appreciate the team spirit and loved the rice pudding.

We spent the night in a motel in Ajuntas. The motel was clean and safe. It was nice to see the people all visiting together in the town and trying to have life as usual. The next day we traveled to Jayuya. We were called to Jayuya because our musician for the fundraiser had family in Jayuya. We found his family (Arsenio, Hector, Lizzy and Mildred) and they were a wonderful family. What an organic connection! They were able to guide us to a very hard hit area of Puerto Rico. We traveled into a valley in the area between Utuado and Jayuya. There, we found several homes with a lot of damage from wind, rain and a flooding river. We traveled to the homes in a Jeep with a flat bed on the back. Once at the bottom, we realized that there were a couple of houses across the river that also needed aid. They sent people across the river to meet us. We distributed food, water, clothes, toys and solar lights to these homes. They were so gracious and wanted to share their hospitality and their stories. At one home, we had coffee made over a fire with the residents. Our new friends and family that were guiding us invited us to dinner after our distribution. In an area where people are worried about food, so many were willing to share.

This trip has inspired us to continue to organize efforts for future relief and improvement. We can't wait to extend help to this area in the future. We have an awesome, organically created team that is a demonstration of how magical the human spirit can be.

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