About

Originally featured in The Philadelphia Citizen, Las voces de Maria is a multimedia project which profiles Puerto Ricans who came to Philadelphia after being displaced by Hurricane María. Part-text, part-video, and part-photo, it hands over to Puerto Ricans the opportunity to share their stories through different tools and mediums.

We met in hotels, cramped basements, relatives and friends' apartments, stranger's apartments, coffee shops. The evacuees sat for hours with us, unraveling their lives inside the gray spaces of our local bureaucracies – nonprofit and governmental alike – which left them homeless, distressed, and hungry. They shared their stories, often for the first time, often when no one else had asked them or even understood them. At least 4645 people passed away in Puerto Rico because of the hurricane, destroyed infrastructure, and government negligence. But the evacuees who came here lost life as they knew it.

Maria was deeply felt on both a personal and collective level. Las voces aims to reflect both the intimate and national losses. The cyclone’s survivors who are featured in the project come from all over the island and from all walks of life. Each piece provides people with the space to share their perspectives and opinions.

Together, all the stories form a chorus on life before, during, and after the hurricane. 

This reconstruction of narratives, like the reconstruction of our island, is vital to our healing process.

Las Voces de Maria is dedicated to those who left, those who stayed, and those who will come back. And to Puerto Rico, which doesn't need to get back on its feet, because it never fell down.


Who we are

 

Photographer  

Cameron Hart

 My name is Cameron and I'm a photographer, cinematographer, and visual creative. I studied visual journalism at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communication at Penn State University and I graduated in May 2017. I've worked for numerous news publications and professional sports teams including The Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Braves. I'm currently interning with creative studio called Beam Imagination in Atlanta, Georgia. I strongly believe in the power of good journalism and the potential it has for people to change the world. I joined forces with Syra to provide a platform where Puerto Rican hurricane María evacuees could express themselves and their hardships. 

 

WRITER

Syra OrtiZ-Blanes

My name is Syra, and I'm a Puerto Rican journalist and poet. I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2017, where I studied History and English. You can find my work in The Philadelphia CitizenThe Philadelphia InquirerHyperallergic, WHYY, and others. I created the Voices of Maria to provide a platform for those who were forced to flee Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. There is a dire need for contextualized and in-depth journalism about my island that centers the voices of Puerto Ricans. This reconstruction of narratives, like the reconstruction of our island, is vital to our healing process. When not writing, I'm probably experimenting in the kitchen, doing yoga, or hanging out with Maya, my Boston Terrier.


A special thanks to