Yuba College student Alanis Delgado was born in the city of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in 1997. At the age of fourteen on Christmas Eve of 2011 Delgado came from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania with her parents, her brother and a Dutch dwarf bunny named Buffy. They came, “Because when my dad was deployed, my mom urged him to apply for AGR (Active Guard Reserve) positions since employment in Puerto Rico was not good and everything was becoming more expensive while there was no change in people’s paycheck. My mom would pay around five hundred of electricity every month and we barely used any of it.”
Delgado is currently serving in the United States Air Force working in Administration. She is studying part time at Yuba College and is majoring in Biology.
“Of course it bothers me when I am asked if I came to the US on a boat, or if I came to the US illegally, or if I enlisted in the US military to get my American citizenship.,” she wrote. Many people do not know that people from Puerto Rico are American citizens and even those who do know often don’t treat them as if they are. “I have felt the difference and hate from others by just being from Puerto Rico and it is a shame that even after 119 years, many people do not accept it or know about it,” Delgado writes in answer to a question.
Delgado says what she loves most about Puerto Rico are the people. “People are extremely warm and friendly, everyone knows everyon
e. We make sure there are no strangers among us and family is always growing with new friends and people. I love how people help each other, and even if we meet someone in five minutes, we make sure they’re not hungry -and if they are, food will be served, lot of food.” Delgado went on to say that the governor was in San Juan going door to door to check on people.
Delgado discusses the current crisis following Maria. The reports she is hearing from friends and family indicate the lack of volunteers and the hold up of help has left people in the dark. “There are places no one has even heard from yet.” They can’t get in touch with the truck drivers in the remote areas to move the supplies and the roads are damaged. Delgado also tells me of another student with family in Puerto Rico who attends Yuba College. The students grandfather died due to the inability to access needed medication.
Most of Delgado’s family is in Puerto Rico. “First thing they say is ‘Puerto Rico is destroyed’ it takes 6-10 hours to get ten dollars worth of gas. People are becoming desperate when it comes to food and feeding their loved ones. People are suffering from losing their homes and everything they have worked for their whole lives, and now there are gangs robbing food from houses at gunpoint.” An email comes in as this article is being written, “A friend just text me and she said that they’re numbering peoples hands so that they know their turn when getting water. She has a 97 in her hand written.” People also lined up at a supermarket for food that had to be thrown away due to lack of refrigeration. “People are bathing in rivers.” she says.
Though there is much more to be said, Delgado ends with a positive statement. She hopes that not only has this helped the people of Puerto Rico see what’s important but that it has “helped people see the real face of the poor,” and helped them become more empathetic.
Note: This article was featured in the Fall 2017 print edition of The Prospector.