Nerena's Story

Resilience in Disaster


Nerena lives in Castañuelas, a small town in the Dominican Republic, with her son and grandchildren. Hurricane Maria devastated her local community in the fall of 2017. Many farmers lost their crops and families lost their homes. To assist older people and their families affected by the storm, HelpAge distributed household grants of $70 USD to people over the age of 50 in Castañuelas. Nerena used the cash she received to help her family buy basic necessities such as food and shelter supplies.


older people in the Dominican Republic received cash assistance to meet their basic needs in an emergency


Nerena got a bacterial infection in her foot about 15 years ago that made it more difficult for her to walk. Because of her physical challenges, she’s not able to work or cook anymore. That makes her sad. Without a secure income, she can’t afford visits to the hospital or medicine. The health insurance offered by the government, SENASA, doesn’t cover many of the services that she needs.


Nerena is hesitant to ask neighbors for help, so she mostly relies on her family for assistance. There are so many women like Nerena who never had an opportunity to get an education or a decent-paying job—even though they are smart and resourceful. Although she never got to go to school, she taught herself the basics of math and reading.


Nerena stands with dignity

Nerena uses her walking frame to go to her bedroom

Now in older age, women like Nerena face the cumulative impact of the systemic inequalities leveled against them. But despite it all, she’s optimistic—grateful that she can remain mostly independent—and has kept a fun sense of humor, joking that even though she’s older now, she still has a flat, taut tummy. 

This Giving Tuesday, help an older person recover from disaster. 


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