Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery

by Filantropia Puerto Rico
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Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Puerto Rico emergency relief / long-term recovery
Solar panel installation at a home in Adjuntas, PR
Solar panel installation at a home in Adjuntas, PR

The FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund is a fund that supports local grassroots organizations that are assiting communities affected by the devasting hurricanes Irma and Maria. This report describes the work that is being done by one of the organizations supported through the Fund.

Casa Pueblo

Among the many projects and initiatives spearheaded by the community organization Casa Pueblo, located in the town of Adjuntas, those involving solar power have become a priority since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September. The topic of renewable energy becomes more and more relevant as the months pass and many of Puerto Rico's rural communities, including most of Adjuntas and its neighboring towns, remain without power.

As part of their response to the humanitarian crisis that followed the storm, Casa Pueblo distributed solar-powered lamps to 80% of homes in Adjuntas, as well as in Jayuya, Utuado, Yauco, Castañer, Lares, Loíza, Vieques, Aibonito, Humacao, and other municipalities. The organization's home base, which has been operating with solar power since 1999, became an oasis for people in the southern and central regions of the island to charge their phones and communicate with their loved ones outside of the island.

Currently, Casa Pueblo is focusing on establishing solar communities. The organization installed solar panels with energy storage and battery systems in 10 homes in Adjuntas, giving priority to those with residents requiring dialysis or respiratory therapy. They also installed solar power systems at a nursing home, the Head Start center, and the municipal shelter.

They are now in the process of selecting the first 16 houses that will receive solar powered refrigerators. This initiative is being funded by the FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund and will eventually impact 25 to 30 residences in Adjuntas. The expectation is that these will become energy oasis in their communities, allowing others to also store food and medicines that require refrigeration.

The hurricane also sped up the implementation of two energy-based projects that were already in the works. In January, Radio Casa Pueblo became the first radio station in the Caribbean to operate 100% with renewable energy. And in February, Casa Pueblo will inaugurate a solar-powered cinema.

Casa Pueblo's long-term goal is to inspire a transition to a renewable energy model across the island, which is why they created the campaign #iLuminarPRconSOL.

"From an educational point of view we will show the community and the island that there are other ways to handle (the energy crisis) ," explained associated director of Casa Pueblo, Arturo Massol Deya.

"Casa Pueblo has been pushing for a long time for a transition to an energetic model that is self-sufficient, where we can leave behind fossil fuels and move towards clean energy sources. This isn't new, it's an agenda that has the conservation of natural and environmental resources in mind. Hurricane Maria emphasized the need to provoke this transition. And since we don't have control or much faith in this happening from the top down, it falls on us to create this change from the bottom up," he added.

Solar panel installation at a home in Adjuntas, PR
Solar panel installation at a home in Adjuntas, PR
Solar panel installation at a home in Adjuntas, PR
Solar panel installation at a home in Adjuntas, PR
Solar lamps were provided to Adjuntas residents
Solar lamps were provided to Adjuntas residents

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Aerial view of the G-8 after the storms
Aerial view of the G-8 after the storms

The FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund is a fund that supports local grassroots organizations that are assiting communities affected by the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria. This report describes the work that is being done by one of the organizations supported through the Fund.

G-8, Corporación del Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña, and Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña 

For the eight communities that border the Martin Peña Canal, a 3.7-mile-long body of water that connects the San Juan Bay with the San José Lagoon, Hurricane Maria worsened an already dire situation. Extreme poverty, faulty infrastructure and recurring public health issues have plagued the 25,000 residents of this area for generations. The source of many of these issues is years of garbage and vegetation accumulating in the channel, blocking the flow of water and flooding the communities whenever it rains. For years the nonprofit organizations that work with these communities have demanded that the government dredge the channel.

Now after the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria, this matter becomes even more urgent. Half of the trees along the channel fell into the water. At the same time, debris and plants blocked the sewage system, causing most of the 8 residential communities to become flooded with dirty water, in some cases for up to four days.

On top of this, over 800 houses lost their roofs either partially or completely, while more than 75 structures disappeared altogether. The residents are also dealing with a plague of mosquitoes and rats, which were displaced by the floods and now overrun urban areas.

The first responders after the hurricane were the organizations Grupo de las Ocho Comunidades Aledañas al Caño Martín Peña, Inc., known as the G-8 and composed of the community leadership; Corporación del Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña, an independent government entity; and the Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña which oversees the 200 acres of public land ceded by the government. With the help of 150 volunteers, they began removing debris and trees, cleaning houses, giving out tarps, food, and other supplies to residents, while offering other emergency services.

In order to avoid a public health crisis, they are also installing 3,500 rat feeders filled with poison, a project sponsored by the FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund. The rat problem becomes particularly serious now that cases of leptospirosis are on the rise. Volunteers also went house by house handing out "mosquito kits" which included mosquito nets, larvicide, and repellent in order to avoid Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika outbreaks.

However, the main long term recovery project continues to be the dredging of the channel in order to remove the blockages. Representatives of the organizations that work with the communities around the Martin Peña Canal insist that "any recovery package legislated on a federal level must include the dredging project as part of the island's recovery and in order to maximize economic development," argued Mariolga Juliá Pachecho, Special Projects Manager for the Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña.

Rat feeders were installed by volunteers
Rat feeders were installed by volunteers
Volunteers remove debris and and fallen trees
Volunteers remove debris and and fallen trees

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    Volunteers plant trees in Guayama, PR
    Volunteers plant trees in Guayama, PR

    The FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund is a fund that supports local grassroots organizations that are assisting communities affected by the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria. This report describes the work that is being done by one of the organizations supported through the Fund.

    Para la Naturaleza

    The link between nature and community is central to Para la Naturaleza's tireless and far reaching conservation efforts. Through workshops and events, tours of their visitor centers, and volunteer programs such as Citizen Science, they've spent years educating and actively involving people in their mission to safeguard ecologically and historically significant sites on the island.

    After Hurricane Maria, Para la Naturaleza refocused its work to offer much needed services to rural communities, while simultaneously organizing a plan to reforest the island since many trees were either destroyed or damaged during the storm.

    In the weeks following the hurricane, members of Para la Naturaleza visited the more than 50 green areas under the nonprofit's protection. Although some areas suffered serious damages, particularly their properties in Ponce and Manatí and their tree nursery in Barranquitas, they decided to first help the neighboring communities.

    Emergency brigades cleared debris from roads and handed out emergency supplies. Now they are bringing solar powered lamps, water filters, and mosquito nets to the residents of over 30 communities. They are also working to help ecologically-conscious farmers rebuild their agricultural projects.

    Simultaneously, massive efforts to replant native trees are also underway, not just in Para la Naturaleza's natural reserves but also in urban areas and around bodies of water. The goal is to plant a million trees in five years. Volunteers are also involved in beach clean ups and are rebuilding habitats for displaced species, such as bats.

    "I think that ecological recovery goes hand in hand with human recovery. We're hopeful that citizens will join our efforts to reforest, restore habitats, and reintroduce species, which we'll be implementing on a massive scale with the hope that this will help with our own recovery process," expressed Fernando Lloveras San Miguel, president of Para la Naturaleza.

    Volunteers at Hacienda Buena Vista's garden
    Volunteers at Hacienda Buena Vista's garden
    Para la Naturaleza's staff at work
    Para la Naturaleza's staff at work

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    Art workshops were offered to children
    Art workshops were offered to children

    The FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund is a fund that supports local grassroots organizations that are assisting communities affected by the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria. This report describes the work that is being done by one of the organizations supported through the Fund.

    Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art

    Less than two weeks after Hurricane Maria brought the island to a standstill, the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC by its Spanish initials) opened its gates and celebrated the event Luz Verde a la Cultura. The storm inspired art and creative writing workshops, while live music and dance performances offered a respite from the crisis.

    This was the beginning of the MAC's reinvention after the hurricane. An interdisciplinary arts organization founded in 1984, the MAC is using its resources, through cultural projects and events, to contribute to the recovery process. Along with helping the artistic community get back on its feet, the MAC is working with underserved communities in Santurce and Rio Piedras with which it has built ties during the past five years through the community arts program, MAC en el Barrio.

    Having suffered minimal structural damage and with electric power restored relatively quickly to their building in Santurce, the MAC was able to use its facilities to offer services such as collecting basic necessity items and setting up a center where people could fill out FEMA applications.

    One of their biggest post-Maria projects was a three week Emergency Educational and Cultural Program through which they offered art and social awareness classes to 70 students ages 4 to 16 whose schools were closed after the hurricane; psychosocial services for the elderly and for families to deal with the emotional toll of the hurricane; and events for the general public which included concerts, dance performances, and an art auction, among others.

    The MAC also extended a hand to other cultural institutions such as the Puerto Rico Music Conservatory, which used the museum as a rehearsal space for several weeks; the literary event, Festival de la Palabra, which could not take place in its originally planned venue; and held fundraising events for Casa Museo Ismael Rivera and La Junta, a cultural and culinary space on Calle Loiza which was destroyed by the storm.

    Local artists who lost their workshops were offered space in the museum to continue to work and also given information about emergency grants and funds. The MAC also helps artists become employed through commissions, including working with the MAC en el Barrio program, and by hiring them to offer workshops.

    Currently the MAC en el Barrio program is expanding to communities in Cataño and Guaynabo. The museum is in the process of acquiring a second location in the Amelia neighborhood of Guaynabo in order to offer more workspace to artists and service these communities directly.

    "After the two hurricanes (Irma and Maria) we've seen the immense contribution of culture as a healing project for the country but also as a project for economic development. These are things that have always been there but after the hurricanes I believe our work has demonstrated the importance of culture in all these processes," stressed Marianne Ramirez, executive director and curator in chief of the MAC.

    Dance performances were offered to the public
    Dance performances were offered to the public
    Dance performances were offered to the public
    Dance performances were offered to the public
    Music concerts were offered to the public
    Music concerts were offered to the public

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    Therapies are offered at an outside court
    Therapies are offered at an outside court

    The FORWARD Puerto Rico Fund is a fund that supports local grassroots organizations that are assisting communities affected by the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria. This report describes the work that is being done by one of the organizations supported through the Fund.

     

    SER de Puerto Rico

    Consistent treatment is essential for children with a disability or with autism. This is why a week after Hurricane Maria struck the island, SER de Puerto Rico’s therapists were already offering their services at the organization’s centers in Ponce and San Juan.

    “If our kids’ conditions aren’t treated, they worsen,” explained Nilda Morales, president of SER de Puerto Rico, a nonprofit that annually works with 4,600 children and adults with special needs.

    “That’s why we’re very punctual with our interventions. Because as you optimize their development, you give them the possibility of being independent, productive, and self-sufficient,” she pointed out.

    The electric power services at SER’s facilities in the southern part of Puerto Rico were restored the third week after the hurricane, even though most of the Island remained dark.  They were able to resume normal operations. In San Juan, on the other hand, the walls of the building were covered with mold because of flooding and lack of electric power.

    While they were able to disinfect the school and resume classes, the rehabilitation wing still needs more work. So, the therapists continue to do what they’ve been doing from the beginning: offering therapy in an outdoor court and in exterior classrooms powered by small generators, within a limited schedule.

    “We have also sent our specialists to communities where we identified people with disabilities,” continued Morales, adding that this has been a joint effort with FEMA and other entities.

    SER’s expanded effort began with the island municipalities, Vieques in particular, which SER has visited on a weekly basis. There they found cases of bedridden elderly people, children with developmental issues, and disabled people being cared for by their families without any external support. Through FEMA they were able to obtain equipment such as wheelchairs, while also offering primary medical services and access to psychologists and social workers for family members. Currently they are in the process of preparing a school that’s not being used in Fajardo in order to serve the people of the east coast and island municipalities.

    SER de Puerto Rico is also establishing a model of remote rehabilitation services in Vieques and Culebra that they will then replicate in other underserved municipalities such as Villalba, Maricao, Ciales, Orocovis and Morovis. This consists of training a family member, nurse or therapy assistant to give therapy under the supervision of a doctor or therapist that will provide an evaluation of the patient’s needs and give recommendations via Skype or Facetime.

    “This is a new scenario for us but our families teach us every day how to face adverse events that can affect your day. Because they live with disability or autism, we who give them these services to develop their skills can’t do less. They have been our guides and our inspiration and we have to be there for each of them,” concludes Morales.

    Therapies are offered at an outside court
    Therapies are offered at an outside court
    Therapies are offered at an outside court
    Therapies are offered at an outside court

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    Organization Information

    Filantropia Puerto Rico

    Location: San Juan - Puerto Rico
    Website:
    Facebook: Facebook Page
    Project Leader:
    Anja Paonessa
    San Juan, Puerto Rico

    Funded Project!

    Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
       

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