Over winter break of my sophomore year of college, I went to Puerto Rico through UNL's journalism program Global Eyewitness to cover the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. While I was there I worked on two different stories (See photo stories here and here). I photographed both but one I focused more on to create a documentary. Julian, the very first photo, had been given food but did not want to eat it because it was too sugary. His wife died of diabetes six years ago and he's afraid to meet the same fate. He was given a tarp but had no way of putting the tarp over his roofless home until three months after the hurricane when community volunteers came to help him. He was given a tent but since he was unfamiliar with it and it was placed over concrete he decided to stay in his mildewy bed. FEMA gave Julian all of these items and then walked out of his life for good.
My experience in Puerto Rico has left a huge mark on my heart, as many things do, but this one is something that will ache at my heart for years to come. I know this because as I watch Puerto Rico recover from abandonment by its own government and the destructive hurricane that hit in September of 2017. I will think of my friend Julian and the two little boys Coco and Bode always.