Updated (02/20/2020) Open Letter:
“We are still a long way from recovery, and the earth beneath our feet won’t stop shaking. We need help!” Guanica Puerto Rico Resident
The people of Puerto Rico, our beloved island, are working hard to recover from ongoing earthquakes and tremors that have damaged homes, buildings, infrastructure and have affected the emotional well-being of the 3.2 million residents of the island.
Starting on December 28, the island, home of 3.2 million people, has been hit by consistent seismic events along the southwest coast of the island. We continue to experience some quakes and blackouts continue to occur.
Last month, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake left few dead, damaged hundreds of buildings, bridges, roads, and highway infrastructure, cracked or destroyed countless homes, knocked out the electric power of the whole island, and brought back the fear and despair inflicted by hurricane María. Every day, every week, more houses are added to the list to demolish and more people become homeless.
Elders, LGBT, and entire families are been told to move from their tents and “safe” areas to lodging or back to their homes as municipalities dont want to see tents in the sidewalks, parks, and neighborhoods. Although tremors have been felt less, until today more than 9,000 tremors have been felt. Last Saturday, while we assisted celebrating a quinceanera birthday, we felt two.
All the lives we thought an earthquake was something that happened one day, at a particular time and place, and then we were free to recover. We were wrong. Most of us have endured weeks of constant movement; others, many in the south, have been suffering since December 28, 2019, when the tremors started. Until now, for all of us, our home was our safe place, our sacred place, a place full of memories and warmth. Today, this place has become a place of fear, hopelessness, and sleeplessness; the location of safety has turned into the home of fear, an unstable trap that can end our lives in a second. Fear, anguish, and anxiety are roaming free. Mental health support is urgent and critically needed.
The experience has taken a toll on the emotional well-being of most of many, and urgent help is needed. Support and emotional assistance is necessary. During January 2020, 24 deaths by suicides were reported among older adults in these towns. As heartbreaking as this is not new to the reality of Puerto Rico, in 2018, 243 suicides were reported, out of those reported 87% men and 13% women, 72% were older adults from 50 to 69 years old, and an average of 8% identified as LGBT+.
Thanks to you! Until today, we have provided more than 840 individuals with mental health sessions (this translates to an estimated 3,840 hours) and more than 120 tents delivered, 348 beds (between air mattresses, cots, and sleeping bags), water, toiletries, clothing, and so much more.
Waves Ahead and the ReconstruyeQ project
At Waves Ahead, we support marginalized and vulnerable communities in Puerto Rico, with a focus on well-being and access to emotional and mental health services. We help to strengthen and re-establish individuals, particularly LGBT+ Older Adults, Female heads of households, the homeless, and other marginalized communities on their primary areas of needs. Our skilled mental health professionals are trained to support, assist, and provide critical services to our population in need. We have three community centers on the island, one located on the southwest region in the municipality of Cabo Rojo.
As of 2018, our project ReconstruyeQ has rebuilt 19 homes that were damaged by Hurricane María, positively impacting 1,140 individuals; 31% are elders over 60+, 40% were families with children, 55% live alone, and 42% are LGBT+ community members. Now responding to the needs after January earthquakes, we visit the communities in the affected areas every day since January 4. We organize volunteers, mental health professionals, supplies, and provisions every day.
Now more than ever, your help will allow us to continue providing essential support and continue the process of rebuilding lives and homes.
Waves Ahead and the Community Centers for LGBT+ Older Adults are assisting the municipalities impacted by these earthquakes. Your donation or financial contributions will go directly to the people and their communities without intermediaries.
As we did after the impact of the hurricanes of September 2017, we are committed to assisting the community with a focus on the LGBT, Female Heads of Households, and Older Adult communities. We can only do our work with your financial contributions!
The severity of the events has caused an increase in anxiety and despair. We are mobilizing volunteers to provide mindfulness sessions, mental health first aid, meditation, creative arts, and case management to LGBT older adults and ALL the impacted citizens of these towns. The anxiety of each individual is palpable; many are sleeping on the streets, parking lots, and shelters. We continue to be informed (in local media and neighbors) that there are many attempts and deaths by suicide; when we talk to neighbors, they all say the same thing – they didn’t have any other option.
Municipalities that will benefit from your support are: Cabo Rojo, Lajas, San German, Guayanilla, Guanica, Ponce, and Peñuelas.
Financial Contributions: via PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org or via our website/PayPal or sending checks to Waves Ahead, 1149 Ave Americo Miranda, San Juan, PR 00921. Our number is 787-940-8851.
Please help us to share Love, Support, and Hope among the people of Puerto Rico. Your financial contribution is needed now. With your support, we will be able to provide it.
Reconstruye Q: Resiliency, Rebuilding Lives
We are helping individuals and families devastated by the earthquakes and hurricanes. We need your help! We accept cash donations, goods, and volunteers! Contact us for details.
Please consider participating as a local volunteer or donating in order to help us rebuild PR. We will be hosting humanitarian rebuild trips throughout 2020.
Thanks to our volunteers from the US and the UK that made a total success our Reconstruye Q efforts held in 2018 and 2019. We have rebuilt 19 homes and counting….
We need food, water, water filters, and personal hygiene items plus any “camping” gear including tents, mats, portable showers, etcetera.
We give thanks to the many volunteers, supporters and sponsors of our efforts – #ReconstruyeQ – special gratitude to the members of the Puerto Rican and LGBT Diaspora from United States, Cuba, United Kingdom, New Zeland & Canada who continue to support our local efforts!