In Alba Garcia’s ‘Yo Soy Taíno,’ Puppets Tell the Story of an Abuela & Granddaughter Surviving Hurricane Maria

Seasoned animator and director Alba Garcia was deeply impacted when Hurricane Maria ravaged her homeland of Puerto Rico. The hurricane killed over 3,000 people and left survivors without access to basic necessities and electricity for months. While she now lives in the U.S., Garcia has family who still lives on the island.

The inaction and insensitivity on behalf of the United States government, in the face of such tragedy, pushed her to rethink what she knew about Puerto Rico’s history. She revisited the banishing of indigenous Taíno culture done by colonization. Although she had primarily only worked in stop-motion animation at the time, Garcia ventured into working with puppets when presented with the opportunity to explore the identity of her people in a new format.

With dialogue in Spanish and Taíno, the 13-minute film Yo Soy Taino (I Am Taíno or Dak’toká Taíno) revolves around an encounter between Puerto Rican grandmother Abuela Yaya (voiced by Amneris Morales) and her curious granddaughter Marabelí (Vianez Morales) following Hurricane Maria. Abuela Yaya teaches the young girl words and phrases in the Taíno language. She also offers her a crash course in the ways the United States has deliberately hurt Puerto Rico’s economy and tried to erase their multiracial heritage — a mix of Taíno, Spanish, and African traditions.

Continue Reading

On A Mission To Help Puerto Ricans Return To Hurricane-Ravaged Homes

When actor Ramón Rodriguez was in the midst of filming episodes of Showtime’s The Affair in September of 2017, Hurricane Maria was devastating Puerto Rico, where his father and other family live in the island’s mountain town of Orocovis.

He turned to a childhood friend and New York City firefighter, Joseph Gonzalez, part of an all-volunteer band of roofers, carpenters, police officers and firemen already on the island providing aid through the non-profit HEART 9/11 (Healing Emergency Aid Response Team). “He saw I was desperate to help,” says Rodriguez.

Continue Reading

PR4PR Welcomes First Delegation of Israelis to Help Communities in Puerto Rico

A group of young Israeli women who have completed their Army or National Service recently arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico to begin a three-month volunteer program with youth from local summer camps to rebuild their community center.

This trip is a joint venture between The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Project TEN program and humanitarian non-profit PR4PR. Following the completion of the program, the group of women, ages 20-24, will return to Israel to attend University. The women come from various areas of Israel including Gan Yavneh, Gadera, Kfar Saba, Givat Shmuel and Kibbutz Maffalsim.

Continue Reading

Democrats Question Why FEMA Hasn’t Fixed Puerto Rican Hospital

Congressional Democrats want to know why the only hospital on a remote Puerto Rican island remains closed a year and a half after Hurricane Maria ripped through the area, with little apparent progress toward its rebuilding.

Democrats from the Senate and House sent a letter Wednesday to the Federal Emergency Management Agency demanding answers as to why the facility on the island of Vieques remains shuttered. The commonwealth has been seeking federal funding to rebuild the hospital that serves about 9,000 residents on the island 8 miles (13 kilometers) east of the Puerto Rican mainland.

Continue Reading

On Puerto Rico’s ‘Forgotten Island,’ Tesla’s Busted Solar Panels Tell A Cautionary Tale

Workers from Tesla, billionaire Elon Musk’s electric car and solar energy giant, arrived on Vieques just weeks after hurricanes Irma and María crippled the aging electrical grid and severed the transmission cable that connected this island to the Puerto Rico mainland seven miles west. The company selected the senior center as one of 11 sites on the darkened island that it would equip with power-producing panels and batteries.

Constructing the system was simple. But when workers attached the panels and batteries to the old electrical wiring in the former schoolhouse, the batteries blew out. 

“It doesn’t work,” a nurse at the senior center said in Spanish during a HuffPost visit in late February. “It never has.”

Continue Reading

Watch Trailer for Devastating Portrait of Life After Hurricane Maria

Three Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria struggle to rebuild their lives and return home in the trailer for the new documentary, After Maria. The 37-minute film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and will arrive on Netflix May 24th.

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, countless families were told by FEMA that their houses were too unsafe to live in, forcing them to relocate to transitional shelters set-up in various hotels in New York City.

Continue Reading

Puerto Rican Man in Jayuya Still Without Power After Hurricane Maria

Spectrum News’ Erin Murray and the crew she traveled with had to walk the last part of a path to a home they were trying to reach. The road ended about a quarter of a mile before the house.

For six years, Miguel Pagan has lived in small, two-room building. Even before Hurricane Maria, power was hard to come by in Jayuya.

“Radio de baterías,” said Pagan, when asked what he uses for some power.

Continue Reading

Facebook data show how many people left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria sent Puerto Ricans fleeing from the island to the U.S. mainland, but population surveys to assess the size of that migration would have taken at least a year to complete. A new study suggests, however, that a Facebook tool for advertisers could provide crude, real-time estimates for how many people are moving because of a natural disaster. That could help governments design policies to assist those displaced people.  

The Facebook data revealed that, from October 2017 to January 2018, the Puerto Rican population on the mainland increased by some 17 percent, or about 185,200 residents. That would imply a 5.6 percent decrease in the population living the U.S. Caribbean territory.

Continue Reading

About 1 in 14 Puerto Rican schoolchildren experienced PTSD after Hurricane Maria

Food shortages, damaged homes, fear of death, loved ones leaving. The cumulative stresses of Hurricane Maria contributed to thousands of schoolchildren developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in Puerto Rico, according to a new study.

Read more:

Source @CaliRicans

Oprah donates $2 million to Puerto Rico hurricane recovery efforts

Oprah Winfrey is pitching in $2 million to help Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The Hispanic Federation and the Flamboyan Arts Fund announced the donation from the media mogul in a statement Monday.

One million dollars will support Puerto Rico’s long term recovery needs, while the other half will go toward preserving the island’s arts and culture.

Continue Reading