As I prepare to leave Indonesia after an incredible two month adventure, I am getting ready to head to my hometown of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina before returning to my now-home of Puerto Rico. As many of you know, one month ago Category 5 Hurricane Maria ripped across Puerto Rico destroying homes and lives and obliterating the already weak power grid. Between the 150-200mph winds and flooding and landslides from the saturated rivers and rains, the majority of the island was left in shambles. Roofs were ripped from houses, entire buildings collapsed into pieces, and entire neighborhoods were washed away. People's lives literally flipped upside down. Young and old and everyone in between suffering, yet lucky to be alive.
Now, four weeks after the storm, things have barely gotten better for most of the island. Four weeks of no power, no water, and little to no communication. Grocery stores are empty. People wait for hours in the sun and are lucky if they get some gas to run their cars or generators. Businesses are destroyed. People are left homeless and jobless. Many people have resorted to drinking contaminated water from nearby streams, collecting rain water when the sky allows, and living life under nourished and severely dehydrated. With no water, no food, no electricity and overwhelmed hospitals - people are dying daily. This time of year in Puerto Rico is one of the hottest. There is no escaping the heat. Little to no breeze. Hot and humid days with no relief of AC. Mosquitoes eating you alive, carrying diseases like Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya.
Sure San Juan is close to recovering and people there are back to living semi-normal lives, but the rest of the island, especially those living in the central region and west coast have seemed to be forgotten. There's been little to no aid from both the federal and local governments. Communities are coming together in order to survive. While it's inspiring to see the power of community, including my community of Rincon, it's heartbreaking to know that so many people - friends, families, babies, the elderly, and the animals - are suffering so badly. FOUR WEEKS AFTER THE STORM.
Now that I am working my way back to the other side of the world, I'm inspired by many of my Rincon community members to do what I can to continue to raise awareness and provide supplies and support to the people that are receiving none.
If you're in Hilton Head or Bluffton, I will be leading an hour long, all-levels Vinyasa Flow, a "PRACTICE FOR PUERTO RICO," to raise monetary donations as well as urgently needed supplies and goods for the people of Western Puerto Rico.
I will be working together with my friend and mentor Vivienne Miranda. Vivienne is a Rincon local and owner of Centro La Paz Wellness Center in town. Since the day after Maria hit, Vivienne and her husband Ricky have been putting together teams of able-bodied citizens and delivering supplies - sometimes by foot - to the people of Rincon, Añasco, Mayaguez, and in the mountains of Las Marias and Mauricao.
The money and supplies collected will be distributed to the people and families in these areas that have lost the most in order to help them survive, provide for their loved ones, and to rebuild their life.
If you are not in Hilton Head or Bluffton, or you are not able to attend the class but still want to help here are a few options:
1. Donate money to Vivienne Miranda via PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via her GoFundMe Page "On the Streets and Home by Home" HERE.
2. Using THIS AMAZON WISH LIST that was put together by my dear friend + colleague, Kathleen Mumma, you can purchase some supplies and have it shipped directly to Vivienne Miranda's PO Box and she will distribute to the people that need it most
3. Bring your cash or goods donation to EITHER JIVA YOGA LOCATION (HHI or Bluffton) on or before October 28th