When back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico back in 2017, the fishing industry on the island was negatively affected.
The Asociación de Pescadores (Association of Fishermen) Juan Sánchez Rivera, Inc. based in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, informed us that the power outages meant no access to freezers to store the fishermen’s fresh catches to both feed the people on the island but also to sell and make money for their own families. Additionally, lobster cages were destroyed, also hindering this portion of the fishing industry. Damage done to their building that housed their pescaderia (fish cafe) also meant no income from selling cooked fish delicacies and is still closed today.
There were also no buyers for their catches. After set-back after set-back, this association reached out to La Isla Foundation in December 2018, requesting assistance in the form of fishing equipment to allow for their fishers to return to the Caribbean waters to promote their fishing business that once thrived before the hurricanes made landfall. Serendipitously, Alyssa Johnson, La Isla Foundation Co-Vice President, was traveling through Puerto Rico that same month and volunteered to visit with the members of this association. Johnson saw first-hand the dated equipment these determined fishermen use to continue their livelihood, like fishing for red snapper using only a fishing line with no reel. She traveled to many of the fishermen’s houses to see the damage to their homes and even saw one where waves plummeted over the entire house, taking with it the entire front portion of the structure. More importantly, Johnson witnessed the tenacious drive these Puerto Ricans have to get back on the water by any means necessary like creating makeshift lobster cages using cement mix, rope, and wire.
This fishing community, which consists of 19 members, including divers, anglers, and net fishermen, need a boost to help them successfully relaunch their fishing businesses in 2019. Together, with your help, we are hoping to set these hard workers up for a successful beginning to the New Year.
This is why we have set up an Amazon wish list that allows you to browse, purchase, and ship equipment directly to these fishermen who just want to return to work with adequate equipment that allows them to meet the needs of their families. Note that this Amazon wish list is only a fraction of their requests which include larger ticket items like Kristal Electric Reels, boat motors, diving oxygen tanks, and 1300-foot reels of 3/8 in rope.
If you would like more information on how to help this group of fishermen with these critical larger items not found on this Amazon wish list below, kindly contact Alyssa Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for any and all support.
La Isla Foundation Board
(La Isla Foundation is registered 501c3 non-profit in the State of Washington under La Isla Hurricane Relief Fund
Our gratitude this holiday season is unending with the help you have provided to Chiara and her two daughters, the single mother and her family that we first introduced you to back in October. Over the last two months, this family of three has received over 65 items from their Amazon wish list and dozens more from private donations. Together, you have helped us furnish her 2-bedroom apartment with two king sized beds and mattresses, two dressers, a futon, dining table, all kitchen appliances, and utensils. You have also helped provide each family member with essentials like warm clothing, boots, blankets, and learning activities for the girls. We even found time to take the family out to buy their first natural Christmas tree and decorations for their home. We would also like to especially thank the Fuchiami-Perdue Family for adopting this family over the holiday, ensuring everyone has presents to open this Christmas. From the bottom of our hearts and theirs, thank you for your tremendous support in all these efforts!
Chiara especially would like to say that because of you, she has found more than just the boost she needed to create a more stable environment for her girls; she found a community that truly took interest in her and her girls' well-being and acted on their needs. For the first time, she feels independent and is joyful to be able to make all ends meet.
La Isla Foundation was built on the premise of helping uplift and rebuild Puerto Rico and this unique opportunity with Chiara evolved our impact to helping uplift Puerto Ricans and rebuild this specific family’s future opportunities.
As we close this chapter of helping this family who now calls Seattle “home”, we would like to share that we have an upcoming opportunity to help impact many lives on the island of Puerto Rico once again by directly donating items from our next wish list recipients: The Puerto Rican Association of Fishermen. Details to come!
From our family to yours, happy holidays and may you have a blessed New Year!
(Story/Updates below are as shared by local volunteer & contact for the WA team, Nacaly Torres)
Sunday, July 22nd, 2018 a team from Washington (state) set on their trek to Puerto Rico! The previous week, volunteers from Mission Manati cleaned the areas around the houses which were untouched them after the hurricane strike last September. You can imagine how many things they found under branches and debris.
The WA team arrived to the site on Monday and went straight to Utuado from the airport. They scanned the area, made an inventory of items needed and went to Home Depot to buy more material. They started their work day at 6am on Tuesday. The team was able to find almost all the material needed for the reconstruction. The day was really hard, the heat and humidity made it difficult, they were exhausted but they continued until 4pm. Some reporters from TV and local Newspapers came up to the area, they were covering the story and will share it next week. The team was able to talk to neighbors and people from the community, it was really heavy, they were devastated, so much people without hope and faith after losing so much. People sleep on the floor, some don’t have water or electricity and their houses are in bad conditions. Pastor Mike was able to pray with and for them, they were able to spread words of hope. July 25th, the team decided to start their journey at 4am and work until 1pm to take advantage of the early morning breeze. And, they tasted awesome homemade Puerto Rican smoothies not bad, for the first few days.
July 25th, 2018
Vicente helped sweep out water that got into a home in La Perla in Viejo San Juan, bought bags for the thousands of seeds to be divided into groups to regrow Puerto Rico, in conjunction with Visit Rico.