Care for Puerto Rico is an annual event hosted by MLR where artists, and other volunteers fly down to Puerto Rico with thousands of donated goods and products to provide aid to the people impacted by the island’s natural disasters. They’re non-conventional aid through beauty experiences is a light in the darkness for many of the people they help, and here is the story of my experience with them in 2020.
Day 1: Guayama, Puerto Rico
The day started off with a two hour drive from our AirBnB in San Juan with several cars crammed full up with volunteers, gear, and donations. The sunny, mountainous views from the window as we drove were captivating, and as we all awed at their majesty, our 6am daze turned into excitement for the day ahead of us. As we arrived in the town of Guayama we were surrounded by beautiful architecture from the late nineteenth century, and in the middle of the square that was to be our venue, there was the a large, lush park with an enormous fountain (Plaza de Guayama).
Day 2: Ponce, Puerto Rico
After the severe earthquakes in January 2020, many citizens in the southern part of Puerto Rico were heavily displaced, and without homes, or work. Many had to stay in refugee camps in the city of Ponce. There is where we spent Day 2 of our #Care4PR volunteer effort. Initially driving into the camp, was a little jarring for me, as I had never been to a refugee camp before. I saw numerous tents towards the back of the camp, where they took care of the sick, and there were two larger pavilions set up towards the front, where we were going to set up. Setting up was fairly similar to Day 1’s operation, we had a tent full of donations, and under the main pavilion is where MLR artist served the community by providing grooming and cosmetic services. Nearby I set up my studio utilizing a rather large rooted and appealing tree as a back drop. We provided individual, family portraits, and group portraits for the community there, as well as documentation for the #CARE4PR campaign. Eventually the demand for photography turned to the teenage population with the premise they could use the photos for their social media presence.