SEATTLE — It has been eight months since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, and the island, which is home to 3.4 million American citizens, is still desperate for help. The storm—which ruined all power and most cable service and telephone lines—was the worst disaster to hit the Caribbean island in more than 80 years. Today, at least 150,000 Puerto Ricans are still without electricity and hurricane season begins in June. However, in the midst of Puerto Rico’s humanitarian crisis, singer, songwriter and actor Marc Anthony is bringing relief to the poverty-stricken and struggling island.
Puerto Rico Faces Ongoing Issues
Since the hurricane, an estimated 135,000 Puerto Ricans have fled the island in search of reliable social services, while the remaining residents have been enduring rapidly increasing unemployment and poverty rates. Additionally, after Maria, Puerto Rico has been struggling with a healthcare crisis. There has been an urgency for medical services as waterborne and infectious diseases have become an epidemic, and an increased demand for mental health services for families dealing with continuous trauma and grief has caused great difficulty for the island. On top of all of this, Puerto Rico still does not have a definitive fatality count from when the storm hit and its aftermath.
Celebrities Come Together to Raise Funds
Despite the significant challenges Puerto Rico has been facing since the hurricane, superstar Marc Anthony is working to help rebuild the country. Since September 2017, just days after Hurricane Maria struck the island, Anthony and his ex-wife, singer Jennifer Lopez, launched Somos Una Voz (We Are One Voice), a natural disaster relief effort and celebrity alliance. Anthony and Lopez’s charitable service works to provide food, shelter, medicine, power and communications to those in need from the effects of recent natural disasters. The philanthropic campaign also aims to provide aid to victims of Mexico’s recent earthquake.
In addition to Anthony and Lopez, other stars such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pitbull, Ellen DeGeneres, Alex Rodriguez, Demi Lovato, Jada Pinkett Smith and more have gotten involved with the humanitarian initiative by pledging to back the campaign or by performing at Somos Una Voz benefit concerts. Jennifer Lopez has donated $1 million to the hurricane relief effort and $35 million was raised by Somos Una Voz’s “One Voice: Somos Live!” October 14 benefit show.
Mobile Medical Clinic Helps Worst-Hit Areas
On May 10, 2018, Somos Una Voz partnered with Children’s Health Fund and presented a newly upgraded mobile medical clinic, along with a gift of $300,000 to operate the clinic over the next three years. The mobile medical clinic will help Puerto Rico’s children and families access high quality comprehensive medical care during this time of destruction.
The diagnosis and treatment of acute medical conditions, management of chronic conditions, referrals to specialists, preventive interventions, provision of mental health, eye care, dental care, nutritional services and year-round health education are some of the services the clinic intends to provide. The clinic was delivered to the residents of the municipality of Orocovis and will be managed by the country’s Integral Health in the Mountain organization. With the goal to provide long-lasting service, the mobile medical clinic will bring the optimism and restoration the country desperately needs.
– Natalie Shaw