“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways - either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.”
The Dalai Lama spoke these words in 1997, exactly twenty years before Hurricane Maria’s path of destruction across the Caribbean. But during my recent trips to Barranquitas and Aibonito, deep in the mountains of Puerto Rico, it was as if he was with us, providing inspiration to the many families who lost everything.
During the relief route, I experienced road blocks, flooding, streets completely washed out and somehow, strength and optimism. Through the hot days without water and the long nights without electricity, the spirit of the families we encountered in Barranquitas and Aibonito that day was nothing short of amazing. The positivity that remains after more than a month since Hurricane Maria’s passing is incredible.
Thanks to the generous contributions from NotiCel readers to the Mark E. Curry Family Foundation, we delivered provision bags to more than 50 families in the remote areas of the center of the island. When we first arrived, families came pouring down the hill to receive relief. I watched children open the provision bags like it was Christmas morning. Everything I was seeing reminded me of military survival school - you survive one step just to get to the next.
After distributing all of the provision bags, we made a stop to check on a colleague’s grandmother who lives in the area. The conditions of her home were heartbreaking. There was water everywhere from top to bottom. No way to wash clothes, no way to get clean drinking water and no sense of time. It was hard to believe so many families were living with the same conditions, or worse.
I couldn’t help but feel powerless after what I had witnessed that day. I had never felt so powerless in my life. I can’t do enough, I can’t access the resources people need quickly enough, there’s still so much to be done. As these thoughts ran through my head creating a sense of helplessness, I reminded myself to have the same strength and perseverance as the families whom I had met that day. The families who have remained so strong and optimistic during a time so trying. And in that moment, I felt hope.
Losing hope is not an option! The real challenge is to find our inner strength and channel that strength to help our families and our fellow Puerto Ricans. Fuerza!
For more information about the Mark E Curry Family Foundation, please visit www.mecff.org
*Please visit the Mark E. Curry Family Foundation (mecff.org) to help Puerto Ricans impacted by Hurricane Maria. Mark E. Curry is a leading entrepreneur, philanthropist and impact investor. Curry founded SOL Partners in Puerto Rico in 2012, and in January 2017 completed acquisition of NotiCel.