The December Stories are a series of first-hand accounts of the ONA community’s work on important causes and issues around the world. NYC-based photographer Christina Emilie has been sharing on social media about her friend Sebastian Becerra's grassroots efforts to raise thousands of dollars to help the recovery efforts in his native Puerto Rico. We asked her to tell their story.
Our friend Sebastian was born in Puerto Rico so he couldn't help but feel a need to help after the natural disaster. Many of his friends were asking how they could also help with the situation that 3.5 million of Americans are facing currently in Puerto Rico. He received calls from friends and family who were victims to the chaos. Most of the residents have no power and two of the major distribution lines suffered severe damage. Authorities are estimating that it will take months to restore power.
On October 18th of this year, he traveled to Puerto Rico to aid those who are suffering due to the damage from Hurricane Maria. He had organized donations by asking friend and family to purchase needed supplies through an Amazon wish list. Thanks to their generous help prior to this trip, they were able to bring $24,000 worth of solar supplies and products to hand deliver to those who need it most. While there, they met many incredible people who are doing their best to be as resilient, optimistic, and strong during this extremely difficult time. They spent their trip in the mountains of Adjuntas, Jayuya, Utuado, and Humacao where the residents are in the most need with little assistance readily available. They are currently without clean water, power, shelter, and medical care.
Unfortunately the work is not done. The situation in Puerto Rico, especially the mountainous areas, is still dire. My husband Steve and I had heard of the success of the first trip and decided we wanted to accompany the second aide trip to Puerto Rico to document both the progress that the Island is experiencing, as well as the continuous need for electricity. I was blown away by Sebastian's initiative and we were extremely lucky to be a part of this journey to assist the residents of Puerto Rico. Because of so many donations, we were able to make a direct impact on many lives.
Sebastian (middle) and Christina (second from right)
At the beginning of December, we returned to Puerto Rico to continue to make a difference. For this trip, we once again brought specific items to those in need, including solar resources, medicine, water filtration systems, and generators.
Like last time, we have created a ‘Wish List’ on Amazon that outlines the supplies that are most needed in Puerto Rico right now. We will be having these items shipped directly to our safe house, and that address is provided on the wish list. You can contribute by purchasing items from the list or donating through our YouCaring. Another way to make a contribution is to spread the word - please feel free to share our mission through forwarding this post and sharing our Facebook posts.