June 12, 2021

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A roof as a Christmas present

Ponce. Domingo González Mari had already given up after spending another year without receiving help to repair his little house in the Playa de Ponce community.

The 78-year-old, who worked for many years as a truck driver, had gotten used to sleeping with eight buckets inside his room to collect water when it rains, as Hurricane Maria destroyed part of the roof of the battered structure where he resides. more than half a century ago.

“I spent María at my daughter’s house, because the house gets very wet… it’s made of wood and cardboard. I went the next day believing that the house was not there and it was still there, ”recalled the septuagenarian, who lives alone in the same house where he lived for years with his deceased mother.

He explained that he required help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but they only approved $ 1,600. “FEMA gave me a check for $ 1,600, but with that I have not been able to fix the roof of the house, because they charge me more than that with the labor. Well, I never spent the money and the day they ask for them I have them there, “he said.

But good news turned his lament into hope when he least imagined it.

“I was cleaning the yard last week when about 10 people came looking for me and told me they were going to fix my roof. I quickly thought, ‘Lord, let it be true, get it fixed for me,’ “he confessed.

“That was the biggest surprise, when those people told me that they were going to fix my roof at the beginning of the year. I still can’t believe it, ”he said, still amazed.


But who were the messengers of goodwill? Why did they come out of nowhere to fulfill this older adult’s wish?

This is the Azriel Foundation, led by Pastor Héctor Delgado, formerly known as “El Father”, who have been helping those in need for several years, especially after the cyclone struck in September 2017.

The philanthropists reached a collaborative agreement with the Office of Economic and Community Development (Odsec) to repair a dozen homes in the Señorial City that were affected by the powerful winds of the hurricane.

“We reached a collaborative agreement where they will give us help. We have already identified the 10 families for whom we are going to repair their roofs, almost all of them in La Playa de Ponce, who since Hurricane María until now are living in their residences in subhuman conditions, with blue roofs still ”, explained Wilfredo Camerón Santiago, operational director of the non-pecuniary organization.

“These people didn’t qualify for federal aid… you know that at FEMA, if you didn’t have property title, they were limited. Imagine, it is more than three years living in these conditions. When I went to the place it was a very emotional moment that I even had to leave because the tears came to me, “he added.

According to Camerón Santiago, the works will begin tomorrow and, in some cases, will repair the entire structure. However, they hope to deliver the impacted homes by the end of the same month.

“There is too much need. In some cases you have to knock down the roof, collect the rubble, dump it in the landfill. We also have to identify a place where these families can spend the night while we repair their homes, ”he stressed, mentioning that the foundation will be in charge of the operational part of the project, including labor.

So both Domingo and nine other families from Ponce received, perhaps, one of the best gifts in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 earthquakes and the aftermath of the hurricane.

“This is my home and although my daughter and son are looking for me because I suffer from fatigue and have a pacemaker, I don’t want to leave here. I have always lived the house. That’s where my mother and I died when I die, I want to die in La Playa de Ponce, ”said González Mari.

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