Hurricane Maria left millions of people without electricity, resulting in limited connectivity throughout Puerto Rico. Consequently, large swathes of people had no means of letting their family members know that they were alright or if they needed help.
As part of disaster response, the American Red Cross has been working to reunite families thanks to a portable satellite dish known as VSAT. This satellite program offers free WiFi so users can connect with their families by accessing social media. The satellite is part of the family reunification program known as Safe & Well which finds creative ways to reunite families after a disaster.
After Hurricane Maria hit, Fátima Haram, 66, and her husband Abdelrahman Salem, 72, were left without any means to communicate with the outside world. Both of Arabic nationality, they have been living in Puerto Rico for five years, and this was the first time they had lost communication with their loved ones.
Tears of joy spilled over when Fátima managed to communicate with her daughter, who lives in Europe. She connected to her using the free internet signal set up in La Revolución Plaza, Lares by the Safe & Well program of the American Red Cross.
Between hugs and tears, Fátima and Abdelrahman thanked the Red Cross for helping them establish long-distance communication and for the free internet service.