The Association of Minority Biomedical Researchers (AMBR), a student group at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, is hosting an International Food Fest for Puerto Rico on Monday, Oct. 16, at 11:30 a.m. in the Onstead Forum (3rd floor, BSRB, Mitchell Building). To raise funds for students and families at the University of Puerto Rico who were impacted by Hurricane Maria, AMBR will be selling international cuisine for $10 a plate. The dishes will be prepared by members of the Graduate School community.
The Graduate School, through its parent institution—The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has a close relationship with the University of Puerto Rico. In 2002, the schools formed a partnership that is funded by an NCI Minority Institute Cancer Center U54 Partnership grant. A major goal of this union is to train the next generation of Hispanic physicians and scientists in cancer and cancer health disparities research, and help establish an infrastructure at Puerto Rico’s first cancer center.
Below are personal accounts from two of the many Puerto Rican students at GSBS.
Rosa M. Santana Carrero: “My family has been one of the lucky few who still have running water at home. They had prepared as best they could with food and water to last a month. We spoke on the phone the day before the storm hit and my parents were worried about how I would handle not being able to communicate with them. Seven days later when I miraculously was able to reach them through the landline at my house, I heard their voices I burst into tears and so did they.
“My story is very similar to that of many other Puerto Ricans in the United States. We felt powerless for a few days, but now we are gathering strength to help our beloved island as much as we can. Even though the help is not getting to the island as fast as we want, we and the people in Puerto Rico believe it will get there.”
Marimar de la Cruz Bonilla: "I'm very close to my mom, we talk on the phone every day, and the dread of not talking to her for a couple of days sunk in. Three days passed before I heard anything. My mom works for the VA and she had access to a satellite phone, I was able to talk to her for a minute. She was fine, the dogs were fine, the house was standing, everything else was not important.
“Another day passed before the calls to my father went through, he said ‘Hi, I'm fine and the apartment is not but I don't want to talk about it.’ and that was the end of the 30 second call. I felt like I could breathe, so I started looking at the news. The stories coming out of Puerto Rico were devastating, every new story worse than the one before. The island was there, but it was not the island I left behind. I know my parents are as safe as can be, but the rest of the people are not.
“The people of Puerto Rico need and will continue to need essentials to survive, every community will have needs, so any contribution we can make will be helpful.”