There's no question about it, those living on the island have embodied resiliency like never before. While hundreds of thousands are expected to make their way stateside this year alone, there are thousands of others who have lost their entire homes - left with no other choice but to see “recovery” through.
It’s been almost three months since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. Communities in towns located in the interior of the island are faced with the greatest challenges, being financially, emotionally, psychologically and physically drained and exploited. One of these towns is Comerio - where some families have lost everything they have ever owned.
Artists, community activists and THE PEOPLE are rising to take matters into their own hands to support recovery efforts in Comerio, Puerto Rico.
“We didn’t come here to ‘do’, we came here to be a part of something happening.” - Edgardo Larregui Rodriguez
What started as a trip to document Hurricane Maria's impact on disenfranchised communities is now a movement to rebuild Comerio. Shortly after the category 4 hurricane rampaged the island, filmmaker and Defend Puerto Rico member Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi teamed up with Edgardo T. Larregui Rodríguez, local artist and founder of Coco de Oro, to support the community of Vuelta del Dos, located in the neighborhood of Barrio Palomas in Comerio.
In partnership with community leaders, Eli and Edgardo have visited the region on over two dozen occasions in brigades that have drawn up to 20 volunteers at a time. These brigades are now a space for community building and action. Volunteers spend long days canvassing, distributing bags of food and supplies, installing solar lamps and powering up “Cine Solar”, a mobile movie theater that provides entertainment wherever they go.
But all the credit is due to the people of Comerio. They lived through what some call "the worst experience" of their lives and still they wake up in the mornings to install tarps, paint common areas (thanks Benjamin Moore!) and to revive the town. They are the true heroes.
So, with your support we are joining Eli, and Edgardo in their efforts to start rebuilding some of the regions' most devastated homes. Together we can reach 10K to get two families back home in time for the new year.
Johanna and Chino's family home was completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Their family spent two months in a shelter with nowhere else to go. Even so, FEMA denied their request for emergency assistance. A tarp was provided and installed with the help of the community. Cost to replace roof and walls: $6,500.00
Manuel and Blanca's family home lost its roof. They have a daughter (Lisandra) who is partially paralyzed. Because of the stressful situation she has suffered strong anxiety attacks. A tarp was provided and installed with the help of the community. Cost to replace roof: $3,500.00
Every penny counts, but here's where you can start:
- A $20 donation will go towards funding transportaion
- A $50 donation will go towards funding labor
- A $100 donation will go towards funding basic supplies
- A $200 donation will go towards funding materials for the structures
WHY IT MATTERS: Puerto Rico has seen a level of destruction that it has never experienced before, and the same amount of resilience. While the crisis has been aggravated by the poor emergency relief management, delays caused by bureaucratic processes, and the cabotage laws imposed by the Jones Act, the people living on the island are coming together to redefine this moment. It is our duty to responsibly reimagine the islands’ future with the people.
Edgardo T. Larregui Rodríguezis a painter, photographer, craftsman and urban artist. Obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Escuela Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico in 2003. Since 1998 he has developed an art project for the youth community in several disenfranchised neighborhoods throughout Puerto Rico, called Coco de Oro. As part of the 1st Biennial of Urban Art "GRAPOPHOLI 2008", he created the 240 feet in longitude mural “Expropiados” (Dispossessed), which runs along the Baldorioty de Castro Avenue outside the Puerto Rico Museum of Art. He was winner of the Third Prize from Certamen de Arte Joven de Oriental Bank dePuerto Rico in 2009. He has exhibited individually in Puerto Rican galleries and has participated in several group exhibits in the United States, Puerto Rico, Spain and England. Larregui works with various mediums like graffiti, painting, drawing and photography to communicate his concerns about the problems of Puerto Rican society.
Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi is a filmmaker and director that blends modern visual aesthetics with music, drone footage and interpersonal storytelling to use film work as a tool to provide insight into culture and socio/political struggles in disenfranchised communities. From documenting youth movement in Comuna 13 in Medellin, Colombia, where Hip Hop is utilized to empower a Peace Movement, to capturing the essence of community resilience for non-profits, Eli has carved a niche working to further the missions of organizations that include Ford Foundation, Leveraging Investments in Creativity Inc., Microsoft Research India, Youth Speaks, La Pena, Sol Collective Arts and Cultural Center, National Black Filmmaker Foundation and the National Institute of Culture & History in Belize. His dedication to centering the voice of the people is deeply connected to his commitment to social justice and the belief in the transformative power of film and art.