What inspired you to establish the “B Strong: Disaster Relief” initiative?
Why is it important to ensure that women in particular have access to real-time emergency assistance during a crisis?
Disaster relief affects everyone. Every age, race and gender — disaster doesn’t discriminate.
When organizing your relief efforts, what were a few challenges you faced?
Each disaster and its needs are completely different, so each time it’s like starting a brand-new pop up business. Oftentimes, you have to learn a new language or skill set. Some places have no clean water or electricity. In others, people are trapped in their homes. If it’s a hot climate, generators, respirators and dialysis machines can break down. If it’s a volcano, the air quality can be affected. And if it’s an earthquake, people can be trapped under rubble. Also, every person’s needs are different. So while you’re trying to assess a disaster as a whole, you’re also keeping an ear out for people’s specific needs. Twitter and Instagram have been phenomenal tools for that communication. Additionally, cash cards give people dignity and the freedom to purchase what they need, and also help support post-disaster economies — but they can only be given out once the emergency phase has passed.
During your relief trips to Puerto Rico, can you tell us about one inspiring person that stood out to you amongst the relief efforts?
A woman named Gloria Cruz. Her home was filled with mud up to her calves, and she and her husband had to wait for nine days, rationing water and insulin. When she was rescued she had a smile on her face, thankful to be alive. Also, there were these three women, about my age, that pulled their car over to beg for water. I gave them $1,200 dollars and they started sobbing uncontrollably. I have thousands of stories that I will keep with me forever, and use as lessons for my daughter.
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