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Dr. Cindy M. Figueroa

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Meet Cindy, we are so glad we did!

In the depths of chaos, you often find a gem. That’s what happened when WaterStep responded to Puerto Rico’s cry for help following Hurricane Maria. Cindy is a chemistry professor at the University of Puerto Rico, she understands the importance of safe water, the chemistry behind it. When the security she once knew was washed away with the high winds and rain, she knew that she needed to help her family and neighbors restore their water supply and make it safe to drink. WaterStep was lucky enough to have her attend our training. Cindy immediately showed her leadership skills and her knowledge by quickly becoming a part of WaterStep’s team. She worked long hours alongside the team, helping us to determine a plan. You see, she had one thing we didn’t, knowledge of her island. How the government worked in the 78 municipalities. Who the mayors were and how to get in touch with them.

Our goal was to provide WaterStep’s disaster relief kits to the leadership of each municipality. With no electricity, road closures and all communications compromised, it was not an easy task to communicate to leadership about the equipment and training. The team would need to travel to the outlying communities. For days, Cindy helped direct the team to these locations. Some of these municipalities are so remote that it took 4 months to reach them all. WaterStep felt confident that Cindy could and would carry out the mission after we returned home. Cindy never gave up, it took calls to community leaders, NGO groups, mayor’s offices and finally Senators. It took mapping and charting and traveling. It took time away from work and family. And she was willing and capable of doing it.

Five months after the hurricane, WaterStep was asked to speak at the United Nations regarding Women and Girls in Science. Of course, we asked Cindy to travel with us and speak as a “women of science.” She left the room speechless, she gave hope to the room that science is more than a study, it’s more than publishing papers, it’s more than research. Science is practical, and it saves lives. In this case, it saves lives with safe water!

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