Orphan’s Promise, a Trip to Puerto Rico

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Austin White | awhite26@radford.edu

There are some countries that still haven’t recovered from the destruction hurricane Maria caused. Puerto Rico was hit directly in its’s path, causing multiple tragedies and catastrophe.

Even though it occurred back in September, conditions were terrible enough for one Radford student to make a move.

Sophomore broadcast journalism major, Jay Foster saw along with the rest of the world how much Puerto Rico was suffering. Even though he is from Brooklyn, New York his mother is from Puerto Rico.

When he showed interest in wanting to go down to Puerto Rico, his best friend since childhood Stacey Pertrin reached out to him.

She runs an organization called Orphan’s promise at Liberty University, a charity program that helps orphanages explicitly.

“They really wanted someone who could relate to the culture down there, being that I’m half Puerto Rican and can fluently speak the language,” said Foster.

He and a team from Liberty University went to Bayamon, Cantano for ten days last semester during Thanksgiving break. What they saw will live with them for the rest of their lives.

As soon as they arrived, they met with local pastors and people to talk about the conditions of the country.

They explained to Foster and the group that 85 percent of the people have no power and for an entire month 100 percent people had no power.

In mid-conversation, Foster got the sense that they were angry that they were not civilians in the United States. They complained how they are a part of America, but they cannot vote for anything but are allowed to join the army.

Foster then started to head to some orphanages to see what he could do to help. While on the way there he noticed what a third world country honestly looked like.

He saw people walking three hours to stand for another three hours just to get ice. One house was wiped off the side off the island; another was caved in from the bottom-up. What the locals call “el baldío” is a lower-class village (or the vacant) which was the first orphanage that Foster visited.

The orphanage hadn’t had power for over a year and there were about 25 orphans, and all of them were either newborns or toddlers with a staff that consisted of three senior women.

The next orphanage that he visited Foster described as the worst. It was a special needs orphanage with half of its building torn down. While inside he noticed electric wires dangling from the ceiling and water on the floor that was two feet high and they had been trying to get rid of it for the past month.

As he started to help dump the water away, that is when two kids got electrocuted by the wires. Fortunately, they were OK, but it was more than a scare nonetheless. “The whole time at that orphanage I didn’t see a kid not smile,” said Foster. “They were acting as if [they] were living lavish [lives] with no worries”.

As they spent the next couple of days helping rebuild Bayamon, Thanksgiving Day was soon approaching, so Foster and the rest of the group made sure to do as much as they could after all the traumatic events.

“We ended up feeding 300 people on Thanksgiving,” said Foster. “The people we gave the food to were so grateful they even tried to give us anything they had in return.”

Foster plans on visiting India this summer with Orphan’s Promise to try and do the same he did for Puerto Rico. Even if it is just a little help, he wants to make some difference.

“Now that I’ve seen so much, I can’t just sit here and do nothing,” said Foster.


Photo Credit: (Hector Retamal | AFP | Getty Imagescnn.com)