In the wake of chaos left by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico comes an image of hope, resilience, and strength: a photo, captured by professional photographer Elias Nuñez, a week before the Category 5 storm hit the island. The image, of a woman wrapped in the flag of Puerto Rico and floating on a small river dock, has struck a chord with many in the community, leading it to go viral.
Actress and singer Grizel Chachi Del Valle is the woman featured in the photo.
Nuñez tells Yahoo Lifestyle about his inspiration for the photo shoot.
He says he wanted “to [keep] the ‘jibaro’ [people] alive” and offer up “a representation of our roots.” The artist adds, “Our flag took a rest, but it will rise up with even more life than before.”
People have flooded the image with admiration on Instagram. One commenter wrote, “A powerful photo. So many emotions can be represented with this one photo,” while another added, “What a beautiful representation in this time of unknown in our Isla.”
The actress has used the photograph to raise awareness around what people can do to help Puerto Rico and how the community is surviving the crisis. Del Valle also shared a video of herself singing passionately to her native land.
The photographer says, “Puerto Rico will not give up, although we are a small island our energy is gigantic. Our people are hard-working and we will restore Puerto Rico on its feet once again,” he says. “Puerto Rico fell but it did not die because it is immortal.”
Del Valle writes, “It’s hard not to feel the emotions when the world around us looks as if it crumbling right before our eyes. Today I don’t want to look at the images circulating the web of pure destruction.”
A commenter shared how the video affected her: “Power. Inspiration. Hope. Humility. Patriotism. Love. Community. The list of things these images and cry to the campo that this represents is immense. 5 days not knowing about my parents left me breathless most of those of the time … this … let me cry and it soothed me somehow. Thank you.”
The powerful images inspired visual artist Jeison Peña to create his own version.
He tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “I woke up that morning [of the hurricane] and that was the first photo on my timeline, and it touched me knowing how deep the meaning to the photo was and how beautiful it was. It inspired and motivated me to paint.”
Peña continues, “I have friends from there that have loved ones in Puerto Rico and it affects them so it affects me.
“I’ve meet Chachi before, and I know she’s a really beautiful person inside and out.”
Peña is not the only one using personal talents to pay homage to the image. Even children feel a strong connection to it. A 6-year-old girl did a fine job of re-creating the image.
Other artists have joined and shared their interpretations of the photo too.
Capturing the emotion behind all of these images, Del Valle writes, “Puerto Rico will rise up.”
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