In 2020 the ZuLoo team was anxious to find ways to solve the global sanitation crisis for more individuals, especially with worldwide lockdowns inflaming the plethora of devastating sanitation issues. With limited travel options, we looked to our neighboring regions and landed in Puerto Rico.
We were shocked when we saw the destruction that Hurricane Maria caused and how the majority of residents were still struggling to recover. We visited Puerto Rico in 2020, but Hurricane Maria landed in September of 2017. Nearly three years had passed and still so many people still did not have power, safe water, or a home!
Hurricane Maria was a Category 5 hurricane which caused an estimated death toll in Puerto Rico of 2,975 people; it is considered the worst hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in the 21st century. Winds that hit up to 175 mph demolished homes, damaged crucial infrastructure, and caused wide-spread flooding.
Puerto Rican citizens all over the island suffered, but the storm had particularly devastating effects on the poorest and most rural living communities. With minimal access to urban areas and resources, the people living in Puerto Rico’s mountainsides, struggled (and still struggle!) to access basic necessities for daily life.
One of these people was Cesar. ZuLoo was referred to Cesar by a local clergyman who had heard of his tragic situation and was looking for ways to get Cesar back on his feet.
Cesar’s story is tragic and not uncommon. Like many people living in Puerto Rico, his residence had been demolished after hurricane Maria. For Cesar, his home wasn’t just about shelter, but about independence and the joy of self-sufficiency. Losing his home and his access to sanitation was a loss of independence, joy, and peace of mind.
We feel so thankful for the opportunity to have met Cesar and to have built a new toilet for him. Once again, he has peace and privacy in the sanctuary of his own home.
Our team chatted more about Cesar’s story a few weeks ago on the ZuLoo Pōōdcast. You can watch it on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/mo_VnddzJno