OCTOBER IS SPINA BIFIDA AWARENESS MONTH.
This morning, while waiting at the rheumatologist’s office for my follow-up visit, Mom received a phone call from her sister, who lives in Puerto Rico. She explained that, at about midnight, the entire family was awakened by an explosion that shook their house. Terrified that it was an earthquake, they panicked.
It was not an earthquake at all, but a massive explosion at a petroleum facility near the capital of San Juan. So massive, in fact, that in the neighboring outskirt town of Bayamón, the violent tremors were felt, and in yet another nearby town, my uncle stood on his ninth-story balcony and snapped photos with his phone of the disaster as it took place, right after it jolted him out of bed.
The new harrowing development, which is believed to have very possibly NOT been an accident, has forced me to face the painful reality that my native Puerto Rico, where so many of my beloved ones still live, is in a downward spiral. The truth is, I fear for all of them, and I know now that I would never be strong enough to move there myself. This is the irony, the double-life I lead, both as the fully-assimilated, Americanized girl who listens to The Beatles and to soundtracks from Broadway musicals, and the Latina at heart, the girl born in metropolitan San Juan who insists on speaking only in her native tongue at home, and who feels pangs of homesickness whenever she hears the chords of a Spanish guitar.
Now, speaking of my culture, there is one thing that is so ingrained in my heritage that it has now taken root in me during my college years– my passion for coffee. Surely, Dad and Mom both will attest that I cannot pass a Starbucks and get a whiff of that heaven-flavored scent without breaking into a stupid, euphoric grin. It pleases me to say I have other reasons to continue my faithful frappuccino-drinking. Starbucks Coffee Company is indeed a leader in charitable giving. The Seattle-grown corporation is a partner of the (PRODUCT) RED campaign to support people with HIV in Africa.
Additionally, Starbucks partners with many nonprofits as part of their “Shared Planet” campaign, including Conservation International, Fairtrade, the African Wildlife Foundation, Save the Children, and with other great causes to emphasize their commitment to global responsibility as well as to the local communities they serve. In addition to sending the company an E-mail through their Web site, I have also posted on the forum “My Starbucks Idea,” suggesting that they promote awareness of spina bifida on their coffee cups, napkins, etc. I’m sure that, if they cooperated with our cause, I’d be buying a lot more venti-skinny-lattes-with-whipped-cream-and-three-Splendas than I am now.
May Your Dreams be Decaffeinated,