The news coming out of Puerto Rico has been heart-wrenching. An island, still recovering from Hurricane Maria, now faces yet another disaster of epic proportions as the impacts of earthquakes and tremors continue to frighten those who live there.
Schools and businesses are closed, bridges connecting communities to food and water are damaged and impassable. How does one cope with such devastation?
For Ada Colón, a single mother who experienced great loss after Hurricane Maria, it was with the helping hands of Lutheran Congregational Services in partnership with Asociaciòn Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) that she found the faith to move forward.
With Puerto Rico’s most recent earthquakes creating fear and terror among the people who live there, the families and individuals of this island need your support. Your gift to Lutheran Congregational Services and Lutheran Disaster Response gives a helping hand to people like Ada and her son, bringing hope and resources so that they find the courage and faith to recover.
The people of Puerto Rico need your support. Visit our Giving Page by clicking here and give the gift of hope to families frightened by the effects of earthquakes nearly every day.
Ada’s Story of Recovery and Renewal
Puerto Rico was always home to Ada and her family. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and worked on the island for 17 years as a legal aid. Taking great pride in her career, Ada has always been a good provider for her five-year-old son.
When Hurricane Maria devastated the entire island, Ada and her son lost nearly everything. They no longer had a roof over their heads, and she lost her job, forcing them to live out of her car. “I practically saw ourselves living on the streets,” she recalls with sadness.
Following Hurricane Maria, Ada and her son were flown to Miami and later made their way to Orlando.
Leaving Puerto Rico was very difficult for me. Everything was so steady for me over there. I had my degree, my job, and I was a good provider for my son. Coming here was a process I had to learn.
Ada suffers from various health conditions. After Hurricane Maria and their evacuation to Florida, she did not have access to proper treatment or the nutrition she needed. As her health worsened so did her depression. And Ada began noticing changes in her son’s mental health as well.
Ada’s son began to suffer from PTSD and he showed clear signs of self-harm. “The hurricane was extremely traumatic for him. He was so young,” she offers.
“He was no longer speaking. He was afraid of the dark. He had trouble using the bathroom on his own. He only had these problems after the hurricane.”
Ada quickly realized that her and her son needed to find a stable place to live. Taking a bus from Orlando, they traveled up the coast to the northeast. Unable to find a stable home at first, they eventually ended up in New Jersey where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) arranged for them to live in a hotel for eight months.
As Ada’s health deteriorated, she wound up in the hospital. When Ada’s father heard about his daughter’s failing health, he decided to call Ada’s sister, who lives in Philadelphia. He told her that Ada was not well, and her sister agreed that Ada and her son could move in.
Arriving in Philadelphia: “The Place God Wants Me to Be.”
After they moved to Philadelphia, Ada began looking for help. A friend took her to Asociaciòn Puertorriqueños en Marcha, known to the community as APM. A non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for the Puerto Rican community in Philadelphia, APM is one of the many Hispanic agencies that Lutheran Congregational Services partnered with to provide disaster-related support for newcomers from Puerto Rico.
Ada was connected with resources that gave her and her son the resources they needed to get back on their feet. They found a stable place to live that they’re proud to call home, and Ada’s health greatly improved. Her son is now receiving occupational, behavioral, and speech therapy, and he attends APM’s school for children, where Ada regularly volunteers.
I am happy. And I am so grateful for all of the help my son and I received. Even though I had to leave Puerto Rico and go from place to place, I believe that God has a purpose for everything and that I am finally in the place God wants me to be.
Now, Ada feels confident with her new home in Philadelphia, but she fears for the people of Puerto Rico who are currently living with the anxiety of what tomorrow will bring. As earthquakes continue to rattle Puerto Rico almost daily, families like Ada and her son are worried.
Lutheran Congregational Services and Lutheran Disaster Response are already receiving calls and learning of families making their way to Pennsylvania, which is home to thriving Puerto Rican communities in cities like Allentown, Reading, Philadelphia and Lancaster. These communities are leading efforts to support Puerto Rico and Lutheran Congregational Services is at the forefront of ensuring successful relocations.
Like Ada, the people of Puerto Rico have discovered that their circumstances are too dire to remain on the island as they fear the effects of earthquakes each day. Your gift to Lutheran Congregational Services gives people like Ada a future full of hope.