Features

Rebuilding Puerto Rico: “Small Steps, Big Changes” Hosts Hurricane Maria Fundraiser

Puerto Rico’s mountainous central region was hard hit by Hurricane Maria. (J. Wyss)

By JERRY HUANG
Staff Writer

Imagine having your life turned upside down in an instance. Everything you have worked your whole life for swept away by mother nature’s fury in a matter of days. In Puerto Rico, where numerous hurricanes have left buildings and homes flattened, millions of people are stranded with nothing left to their name and nowhere to go.

Of these hurricanes, Hurricane Maria was the center of attention for community service club Small Steps, Big Changes. “When Hurricane Maria hit a lot of people didn’t know about it, not only at our school but across the nation,” said Anita Garg (Sr.), president of the aforementioned club, “so we decided to hold the fundraiser to do what we could to help”.

In order to reach more of the school’s student population, “we put 30 envelopes in classes around school” where students could make contributions, said Garg. Additionally, she added that the fundraiser was also “publicized on social media such as Facebook and Instagram.”

In the aftermath of the hurricanes, Aniket Mehrotra (Jr.) shared that “Hospitals are struggling to adequately care for patients due to a lack of medicines, staff, and fuel to run their electric generators,” and “contamination of water and lack of running water has given rise to several bacterial infections.”

To make matters even worse, landlines have been knocked down, isolating the island’s inhabitants from the rest of the world. Mrs. Covarrubias (World Languages Department), who advises the club, said “People couldn’t even talk on the phone because there are no landlines and they didn’t know if their family is alive.” Without a way to reach one another, loved ones who may have been separated during the storm suffer even further from the feeling of helplessness and anticipation.

For many students, the severity of the storms is difficult to fathom without first-hand experience. Garg, however, believes that, “hearing the hard facts about the sheer damage that Maria can help us to empathize and to see that we are so lucky to have what we do.” As of the end of October, 80% of Puerto Ricans still have no electricity, and many still do not have access to reliable food and water despite the strong relief effort.

In comparison, the relatively trivial problems that we experience on a daily basis is microscopic compared to the life or death situation that millions are facing. To put things in perspective, Mehrotra said “the problems we may encounter in our everyday lives, such as the fear of an upcoming biology test or the pain of your iPhone screen cracking, are nothing compared to the fear and pain Puerto Rico is facing right now.”

With the conclusion of the fundraiser, the school raised nearly $400, which will be donated to Unidos por Puerto Rico, an initiative created to provide aid and support to the victims of these hurricanes. “The more people we have working together, the more that we can help and bigger the impact,” says Garg.

Despite the club’s fundraisers being complete you can donate to the cause at https://hispanicfederation.org/unidos/

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