Puerto Rican family struggles with Christmas after relocating to Central Florida

By Paula Machado, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, December 25, 2017, 5:14 PM EST

It’s not the jolliest of times for many families who are spending Christmas away from home for the very first time.

  • Family struggles w/ adjusting to life in Central Fla. over holidays
  • Walezka Rivera and family forced to leave home in PR after hurricane
  • Rivera says she also struggles with Lupus; waiting for transplant
  • RELATED: Hurricane Maria impact

Walezka Rivera has been in Orlando with her husband and 9-year old son for 35 days exactly after moving from Puerto Rico.

“Being here, it’s a sad Christmas for me,” said Rivera in tears.

Rivera and her family made the decision to move to Central Florida after Hurricane Maria flooded their home.

"It got to about two feet of water, and it destroyed my dialysis machines,” she cried.

Rivera was diagnosed with Lupus a few years ago and health complications caused failure to her kidneys.

She’s been on the waiting list for a transplant for more than two years. With her health condition, staying on the island was not an option.

Things in Orlando haven’t been any easier either. Her husband can’t leave her side for too long.

"I've fainted a few times since I got here,” she explained. “Last week he left to run some errands and found me on the floor passed out.”

Rivera sat in the breakfast area of the hotel she and her family are staying at, remembering the holidays back on the island.

"I would spend Christmas at my parents’ house with my husband, my son and my family. It was a huge celebration,” she said.

This Christmas, it was just the three of them opening the few presents people donated to them.

Rivera has been calling her parents several times a day every day since she’s been here.

“It makes it easier for me to hear them,” she said.  

On this holiday season, Rivera only asked for one thing.

"I just want a home for my son and for him to have a healthy mom,” she said.

They have no plans of returning to Puerto Rico any time soon.