As many families gather for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, others are still getting used to a new life.Camacho family fled Puerto Rico after Hurricane MariaThanksgiving, holidays used to be big time of the year for them
11 members of family now living in Orlando apartmentDad, daughter now have seasonal jobs, had to work on ThanksgivingThousands of Puerto Rican families have moved to Florida after Hurricane Maria, including the Camacho family.Although Thanksgiving may not be celebrated in most Latin American countries, the national holiday is as big in Puerto Rico as it is on the mainland.In the Camacho home, the day was the beginning of the holiday season, and the family celebrated in a big way when they lived back home.â€œThe tradition is that we eat turkey, we eat rice, salad, and then our neighbors come over and wait for the lighting of the house. Itâ€™s a huge family thing for us,” said Isabella Camacho, the youngest of the family, as she watched her father cutting tomatoes.But this Thanksgiving, things are a little different. They had to leave their house in San Lorenzo after Hurricane Maria devastated most of their community. They left everything behind, from clothes, to furniture, to even the dozen boxes of Christmas lights they bought to decorate the home for the holidays.â€œWe had so many lights because we wanted to make it bigger than last year. Now, my friends back home are asking why we left,” said Valeria Camacho, the oldest daughter.They had to leave because things were getting much worse in Puerto Rico, with no power and nearly no resources for food or water.â€œI didnâ€™t feel safe, because we would hear about things happening around us,” remembers Camacho.Now, 11 members of the family are living in a two-bedroom apartment in Orlando. For Julio Camacho, the father, a day like this one is very painful. He grew up celebrating Thanksgiving with a big family back home, but now he’s in a country where he doesnâ€™t feel he can even speak the language.â€œItâ€™s sad, because we had to leave in such crazy circumstances. We werenâ€™t prepared, and now Iâ€™m frustrated, because I had my own business, I had my whole life there,” he said.In order to help with the bills, Julio and daughter Valeria got a seasonal job at an outlet. Theyâ€™ll be working Thanksgiving Day for the very first time.â€œI preferred it that way,” Camacho said. â€œI want the day to pass quickly, because I get so sad.”He did, however, say he’s thankful for having his immediate family around him. Heâ€™s not sure when heâ€™ll be able to go back home â€” if they ever decide to move back. His daughters have all started school and look forward to starting a new life.“I need to be thankful for what I got, so that’s why I don’t complain about it all. I have a tree, I have a stocking, I have gifts, I have a house to live in. I don’t have to sleep on the floor,” said the youngest of them all.
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