Dunne-Sosa can be Project trust’s regional director for the Americas, as well as volunteer coordinator for all medical personnel the organization sends to disasters around the entire world.
“This specific’s been a busy couple of weeks with several major disasters all in my region, all involving volunteers,” she says having a tired shrug in addition to a proud smile. “We’re doing genuinely not bad work right currently.”
Dunne-Sosa in addition to a little team of volunteer doctors in addition to nurses have just arrived at Concilio de Salud Integral de Loíza, a community health center about 30 minutes outside San Juan, Puerto Rico. The goal: help support the clinic with their team, as well as going out into the countryside to find those who are stranded in addition to in need of help.
“coming from what we understand, we have families that will are blind, disabled or otherwise unable to get out coming from their homes in addition to are waiting on people to come,” Dunne-Sosa tells assembled volunteers. “So we need to get out into the community to get to them.”
The group quickly springs into coordinated action, most separating medical in addition to food supplies into smaller deliveries, while a few split off to discuss logistics. This specific’s Saturday, nearly two weeks since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, even longer since This specific felt Irma’s wrath. Still, This specific’s hard to get around the island, in addition to careful planning can be a necessity.
“Local knowledge can be key. We have a couple of partners here, working in This specific community for 25 years, so we’re going to be listening to them,” Dunne-Sosa informs the team. “They’re going to provide guidance to us as to where we need to go, where we shouldn’t go in addition to the right way to get there.”
The scene on the street
Loaded in addition to ready, two vans head off to Melilla, a nearby barrio in Loiza where local volunteers have heard stories of need. Arriving just as the rain begins, they must park in addition to walk in.
This specific’s all too clear why: Power poles are cracked in addition to broken, many leaning onto roofs of nearby houses. People walk or bike underneath, staying clear of any loose lines. Horses, roaming free in addition to without any obvious owners, amble down the streets.
Yet the streets in addition to houses are tidy, debris gathered in addition to piled by the side of the road. This specific’s clear that will the local people have done their best to put their lives back in order.
although there’s something they can’t escape: black water. Filled with waste coming from sewer breaks, standing water can be everywhere, made worse by This specific falling rain. The stench permeates the air.
As the team turns a corner, there can be a sudden chorus of loud voices. A domestic fight can be underway: angry shouts, shrill screams, even some pushing as more in addition to more family members join the fray.
“The hurricane causes a lot of stress. This specific’s unfortunate,” says 31-year-old medical student Oscar Soto Jr. “People late for work, trying to get gas, stress builds up, you know.”
Born in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, Soto was on a medical mission from the mountains of the Dominican Republic when the hurricane swept across his homeland, taking out nearly all power. He didn’t know for days whether his father was alive.
“I feel blessed that will he’s with life,” Soto says with tears in his eyes. “The family can be all right.
“This specific’s so frustrating,” he continues. “A lot of families are from the States, in addition to they want to get to the family members. They want to help. They want to send items of aid, although This specific’s difficult. No communication at all. No cell phones whatsoever, in addition to that will’s a large amount of Puerto Rico.”
A heartbreaking discovery
Reaching the first home, the team can be in for a surprise. Word has gone out they are from the barrio, in addition to neighbors have gathered in hopes they too can get medical care in addition to supplies.
“There are four patients here,” says Teresa Narvaez, a nurse with Project trust for 27 years. “We came in, in addition to everyone has an ailment. They reached out to their neighbors in addition to said, ‘there can be a doctor; come on, come on.’ ”
“that will’s great,” Dunne-Sosa replies. “We should be asking everywhere we go if they have any neighbors in need so we can help as many as possible.”
Doctors in addition to nurses busy themselves, taking blood pressures, checking pulses in addition to listening for heart or breathing problems. One woman needs antibiotics due to a bladder infection. Another has an older injury on her legs. They are especially concerned about the home’s resident, an elderly woman named Jobita Cumaquita, who can be struggling with cancer in addition to diabetes.
“I feel OK right currently, thanks to God,” Cumaquita tells Nicole Merrill, one of the volunteer nurses. “although I’m nervous about my family.”
She points to her 22-year-old granddaughter, Estafani Ayala Osorio, just a few feet away. Osorio can be sobbing from the arms of a cousin, who can be visiting the family after the loss of Osorio’s 50-year-old father. He was hospitalized just before the hurricane hit, nearly two weeks ago, in addition to the family has just learned of his death.
“They just thought he had high blood sugar,” Dunne-Sosa explains, wiping a tear coming from her eye as she pats Osorio’s arm. “He was being cared for, in addition to they were just able to go in addition to visit, in addition to they found out he had died.”
“This specific can be heartbreaking,” Soto says of his conversation with the woman. “They couldn’t even find out that will he had passed away after the storm because there was no communication.”
He breaks down as he walks away coming from the home. “I was genuinely trying back there to be the tough guy, although there are no words.”
The team moves on through the pouring rain. In another home, they find a 0-year-old woman with diabetes who slipped in addition to sprained her ankle during the hurricane.
“She’s bruised all up her legs, in addition to she can be limping on the right, which can be causing the left leg to swell,” says Neil Shocket, an emergency physician who can be volunteering for Project trust along with his physician wife, Lori. “Because she’s taking blood thinners, This specific can be going to be a worse problem. What we need to do can be wrap these up better …”
Shocket replaces her one existing ankle wrap with two brand-new leg wraps in addition to gives instructions on how to keep the swelling down. from the hallway, Soto can be hugging the woman’s elderly husband, who can be crying.
“This specific can be our family, too,” Soto says. “that will’s the human factor, the human factor of love. We’re trying to build up their spirit, build up their faith in addition to take care of their health.”
As they move on to the next home, Soto can’t help although think back to the young woman who has just lost her father.
“I’m imagining she can be saying, ‘what am I going to do tomorrow? They are here today, although what am I going to do tomorrow?’ “