A few days after Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico Helen Ceballos had to go to the hospital. With no power and a suffering infrastructure the conditions were less than optimal. Her health situation was quickly resolved but she realized that a lot of elderly waited for care, by themselves. Helen is an artist. She directs the group Mezcolanza. She went home and gathered some friends to start visiting elderly homes and communities. With the support of Acacia Network Ráfaga Solidaria was born.
It is like getting a visit from a grandchild. They clean, play music, bring food, they talk to people. “Many times all they want is someone to talk to”, she explains at the end of yet another visit at the Egida La Merced in Hato Rey. They have visited 54 municipalities and impacted and 2000 seniors.
“What do we have today?”, asked Ledia Cintrón Cordero, an 83 year old resident of La Merced. Helen walked into the activity center at the Egida with boxes full of sandwiches and snacks. Luis Bonnet was with her. He was in charge of a self care workshop with stretching exercises that could be done sitting down. A group of 15 people filled the room. He spoke in a firm and calming voice. The techniques he teached are aimed to be able to strech, even while sitting down or in a very small place. Cintrón spent the hurricane by herself in her studio at the elderly home and a window was blown off by the winds. Her studio was flooded with three feet of water. She had to take care of it by herself.
Cintrón and her neighbors pay attention to the next workshop. The sound of a bomba drum takes over the space. They stand up and dance. Lío Villahermosa is in charge of the workshop, Mariela Méndez plays the drum. “Dance however you feel”, Lío moves around.
“I really liked that we got to dance a little”, Cintrón said later. While this happened another part of the Ráfaga Solidaria crew cleaned their studios lending a hand to the most vulnerable in this still trying times. Ceballos plans to extend this project until December to be able to visit other towns and more homes. The project is now possible with the support of Comité Noviembre and Acacia Network.