When Hurricane Maria unleashed its fury directly on the island of Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, it resulted in widespread destruction and calamity, which is still being felt to this day for 3.4 million Americans.
On the Mainland, we are preparing for the December holiday season and to ring in the New Year. In Puerto Rico, more than thirty percent of the island remains without electricity, ten percent of the population does not have clean water to drink or bathe in and telecommunications remain out for one in five residents. There is recovery, but it is slow and made more challenging by the simple truth that Maria, together with Hurricane Irma, which indirectly hit the island two weeks before, have left the economy in shambles.
In Puerto Rico, young girls pursue the sport of volleyball with the same passion as they do in most Mainland states. Puerto Rican players, post-Maria, have to do so while living in cities and towns torn apart by the storms and practicing, when they can, on the beach or during daylight hours on the weekend because facilities lack power. Money is for food and fuel, clothing and shelter, not for volleyball shoes and uniforms.
Last year, North Carolina’s Triangle Volleyball Club befriended the well-known Borinquen Coqui club and helped bring its 16s team to the club’s City of Oaks Challenge in January.
“It was a wonderful four days with them and we got pretty close,” noted Triangle Executive Director Sherry Fadool. “There is a lot of poverty in Puerto Rico and these young girls are just hoping for a break via volleyball to make different lives for themselves by earning an advanced education.”
When the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico this summer, Fadool and others with the club grew concerned. It took a while for Triangle directors to connect with its Borinquen Coqui counterparts and when they did, they discovered that the situation remained dire. With so many issues affecting the island and its citizens, operating a volleyball club in 2018 probably would not be possible.
Triangle sprang into action with a plan to get Borniquen Coqui’s 16s team to the City of Oaks Tournament in Raleigh from Jan. 13-15.
“This is just our way of giving them hope,” Fadool noted. “That someday things will return to normal. That there are people who care. That we recognize there is value in doing things they ‘used to do.’”
Round-trip air fare for 15 (11 players, two coaches and two parent chaperones) has been secured. The team will have its food and lodging taken care of as well. Shoes, uniforms, other apparel and equipment are other needs that Triangle is working hard to provide for its Puerto Rican friends.
The cost to make this happen for Borinquen Coqui will exceed $10,000. Folks in the greater volleyball community, hearing of Triangle’s plan, have been quick to offer financial aid. PrepVolleyball.com has donated $1,000 to the cause. A Triangle player has put together a 4v4 holiday charity tournament on Dec. 28 to raise money for the cause.
More help is needed. Any donation, however small, will help. When these girls return from Raleigh in mid-January, they will still be facing difficult times ahead, but it will be with the memory of a little normalcy in their lives, a weekend of having played the sport they love.
Use this link to contribute: http://trianglevolleyball.org/member-payments-donations#overlay-context. Donations are tax-deductible. Triangle is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, EIN: 02-0647358. 100% of the proceeds will go to assisting BC. Any monies raised in excess of the costs associated with their visit will be given to Puerto Rican relief efforts.