Early morning on Friday Sept 22 I received a phone call. It was from an unknown number in Puerto Rico. My heart skipped a bit, I quickly answered. Though hopeful, I was also ready for the worst. On the other side, I heard my sister’s voice. As she heard my voice, she broke into tears. “Is everyone ok?” I asked. The line started breaking up, I could hardly hear her now, I was getting more a more anxious. “Yes, everyone is ok here, I was just desperate to hear your voice.” she replied.
It took three long days for that call to come. After hurricane María swept through Puerto Rico, most telecom antenas were down. Myself and thousands of other fellow Puerto Ricans anguished waiting to hear back from our loved ones. Social media filled with repeated cries for help. “Has anyone heard from folks at this city, neighborhood or the other?” I don’t remember when was the last time I felt so much pain and helplessnes in my life. Not being able to know anything from my mom, dad, sister and friends was messing with my emotions and mind in ways I can’t begin to describe. The thought of never hearing back from them was taunting me and it was unbearable.
All the while the reports in the news were extremely dire. Devastation had taken over my country. As more and more family members stories from Puerto Rico surfaced. The theme was the same, “we are ok, but everything is destroyed and the island is going to need a lot of help to recover.”
As I was still waiting for news from my family, I decided to act in any way I could. Moved by a friend’s initiative to help hurricane Harvey’s victims in Huston. I took a similar initiative and reached out to a group of photographer friends, graphic designers and photojournalists. The goal was to create a website where we could sell prints of our own work and donate 100% of the proceeds to grassroots organizations in Puerto Rico helping rebuild the communities. It took two days of hard work, getting everyone on board, web design, writing emails…you get it…but we pulled it off.
On Saturday Sept 23rd at noontime www.Pixels4PuertoRico.org was launched. With the support of 14 amazing photographers putting our work at the service of my brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. Within the first hour already sales started coming in and thus far we have been able to raise nearly $2000 dollars!
Since we launched the website, the response has been overwhelming. Both from people donating as well as other photographers wanting to get involved. We are already getting the second phase of photographers together within the next two weeks.
Here are the Instagram usernames of the first 14 photographers who are joining our effort:
@OmarZRobles, @DirtyyyDan, @Tutes, @Oveck, @ScottBorero, @VisualMemories_, @Huascar.Robles, @Neivy, @Monaris_, @Vcamed, @Senen, @3rdKnight, @JoseRodrigoMadera, @Andrisdze, @simonebirch
“We are brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, artists, creatives, thinkers, aid workers, facilitators, coordinators, communicators. We are Puerto Rico. And we are here to lend a hand, a hand that creates and heals. Please join us by acquiring one of our art pieces.”
Visit www.Pixels4PuertoRico.org today to make your donation and help heal Puerto Rico through art.