March 1, 2021

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They start new lives clinging to the earth and its blessings

Agricultural Housing allows up to ten homeless people to gain knowledge and a roof to live on, while working as agricultural wage earners on the five acres of land of the project, located in the Real Anón neighborhood of Ponce.

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Reaching calm, even during life’s most severe storm, is possible.

A living example are the participants of the Agricultural Housing Project in Ponce, an innovative program of the Centro Cristo Pobre that has allowed the transformation of more than a dozen lives: beings who went through years of uncertainty until they reached a path of opportunities, objectives and goals.

Mostly Ponce residents, they all have a common story. From a very young age they engaged in risky behaviors that led them to an unstable life, without a roof or a home, until they received the services of the center.

Since then, and with the help of committed facilitators, they began a process of recovery that has taken a dramatic turn in their lives.

That is the case of Ángel Rafael Conde, who at 45 years of age has finally managed to settle in a place where he enjoys his freedom as an agricultural wage earner and fully enjoys a safe place to live, with the medical and behavioral care he needs. to advance your journey to rehab.

As he explained, a year ago he asked the director of this care center for the homeless for an opportunity to access a residence while he worked the land, a proposal to which Juan de Dios Videau Soler agreed.

“It is a unique opportunity. I know that many would like to be in our place. I feel good and I am very grateful, trying that each day that passes I can be a better person. I even have a car, ”commented who little by little has managed to recapture his quality of life.

Ángel’s agony began when he was nine years old, when he decided to live as an adult and went to the streets. Since then, his existence has been a virtual roller coaster, with stops at rehabilitation programs and correctional services, until he arrived at the Centro Cristo Pobre, where he found a halfway home and a place to eat and wash.

However, due to his impulsive nature, he had not managed to transcend until the Agricultural Housing Project, until “Juan De Dios gave me the opportunity and I have not disappointed him,” added who at the time of the interview was preparing to plant pumpkins and onions that, together with other agricultural products, they are the food and economic sustenance of the project.

Luis Cruz González also worked near him, who came to the farmhouse a year ago and since then has become the guide for the youngest.

His experience in the agricultural field, his mastery in the tractor and in raising laying hens has not only earned him his space in the place, but also the respect of those who reside there.

“My dad taught me to work the land and here I have received much more knowledge than I had. This has been a good experience ”, he confessed.

Agricultural Housing allows up to ten homeless people to gain knowledge and a roof to live on, while working as agricultural wage earners on the five acres of land of the project, located in the Real Anón neighborhood of Ponce.

It was released years ago, after the director of the center achieved the approval of a proposal with government agencies, which allocated about $ 700 thousand for the acquisition of the facilities.

“We are a temporary housing center. We do not solve the problem of homeless people, so we promote the development of permanent housing for the population we serve, ”explained Juan de Dios.

The two-level concrete structure is divided into ten furnished bedroom apartments. Residents share common areas such as the living room, dining room and kitchen, as well as a nursing room where clinical staff attend to them daily and make referrals, if necessary.

The headquarters also has a computer room, where residents can make arrangements to find a job or start studies at a distance.

Luis Rodríguez Quiñones, coordinator of this revolutionary initiative, added that although it is still difficult to maintain the program, it is not impossible to perpetuate it.

For this reason, they are already contemplating the acquisition of an adjoining land to expand the project and house at least 19 more people.

“So far we only have ten apartments, so we need to acquire another structure to be able to expand services to more homeless people,” he said.

And although the project is available for females, so far only males have requested to participate.

His daily routine begins around 6:00 in the morning, with four hours tilling the land and sowing tomatoes, cucumbers, chili peppers, bell peppers, squash, onions, patches, avocados, papaya and coriander, under the supervision of an agronomist .

Meanwhile, another group tends to the laying hens, collects their eggs and serves their food, products that are stored in a large refrigerator donated by the World Central Kitchen entity.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, our sales have been increasing and that is due to the consistent production we have had, using the least amount of pesticides so that the product is as healthy as possible,” said the coordinator, who already He has been with the organization for about 12 years.

These products are available for sale, so the interested public should contact 787-429-1934. Similarly, the fruits also enrich the kitchen and common table of the Albergue Cristo Pobre in Ponce.

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