(Springfield, Mo.--01/11/2018) A local Missourian, who volunteered more than 60 days in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, is back home in Springfield.
"I know the culture, I speak the language and when this hit, it hit home," explains Ben Desa, American Red Cross Volunteer.
Ben spent more than two months helping his home country by providing relief with other volunteers.
"Boots on the ground that’s a whole different scenario. How are we going to take care of this?"Life in Puerto Rico will never be quite the same as it was before. "You’re thinking different, you’re thinking survival, you’re thinking what’s the next day going to bring. Is there hope in the future?"
And the road to their normal is a long one.
"Your mind starts clicking and your saying I’m going to stay until it’s done."
Ben says his time on the island changed his perspective, and that much of the us territory was left in ruins."For someone in despair, for someone with no hope, lost everything, sleeping in imaginable conditions, children."But he says the people are hopeful. "Yet they open their eyes and they see and they look and see us and they say there’s hope. We’re going to get out of this together."
Working 12 hour days, Ben and his team loaded up trucks every morning with bottled water and other supplies we might take for granted.
"To have the ability to instant gratify and to see that coming back it’s like there's no better feeling."
Stacy Burks, Executive Director, American Red Cross of Southern Missouri says there's certainly no doubt that it takes a special kind of team to venture into the disaster zones.
"The gratitude that we have for our volunteers who put their own lives on hold to go for the amount time that Ben did 64 days, is tremendous."
Ben says being a part of recovery is a role we all should play.
"If you want to so something positive in your life that will fulfill you not only emotionally,but mentally and your heart will open in such a way you’ve never experienced before, volunteering is the work in any capacity."
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