Since our last update, the Internews team worked on expanding and nurturing its formal community network throughout Puerto Rico. After two years of serving the island, our program went on hiatus in November -- but we're actively continuing our fundraising efforts for new programming in 2020!
Here's what we accomplished since our last update:
The expansion and engagement of Internews' community network
Since our last update, we've continually engaged and grown our community network of concerned citizens, local influencers, community service providers, and local NGO representatives. They represent communities from the southeastern portion of Puerto Rico, through the center and San Juan, and across to the northwestern area. The network is connected through an active WhatsApp channel and continues to sharing shares daily. We met in Maunabo in mid-October for our third community information exchange, which brought together even more participants and led to further bonding. Participants discussed the ongoing recovery in their communities, shared grassroots efforts, and engaged in group exercises that helped everyone think critically about longer term recovery solutions. While our program is now on hiatus, the network remains active and engaged.
Ongoing interaction with the INGO group
In late spring, our Puerto Rico director, Justin Auciello, joined a group of INGO representatives that meet regularly in San Juan to discuss ongoing recovery work, storm preparation, and resiliency. Since our last update, Auciello has continued to interact with the INGO group and will remain ready to assist with information gathering and the flow of critical "news you can use" in the event of another crisis. This network has also expanded our service provider and government connections throughout Puerto Rico, which will be an indispensable resource during future program iterations.
We are grateful for the GlobalGiving community support that allowed us to undertake our recovery information work!
Since our last update, the Internews team has been continuing its community listening and reporting efforts and has also expanded to building formal community network throughout Puerto Rico. Here are some highlights of the last few months:
Citizen correspondent reporting
Our overarching goal is to highlight post-hurricane life in communities through storytelling while also providing the reader with insight into how individuals are dealing with various issues. These stories are published on our Medium page: Contigo: Experiencias Comunitarias (With you: Community Experiences).
Internews' community network
We've spent most of the summer recruiting members to join our community network, which was sparked by our successful gathering of concerned citizens and NGO and INGOs representatives in June. Communities from the southeastern portion of Puerto Rico, through the center and San Juan, and across to the northwestern area are now connected through an active WhatsApp channel and are sharing information daily.
In mid-September, network members convened in Arecibo to discuss the ongoing recovery, exchange information, present storm preparation workshops, and plan for future activities. The Internews team is currently producing a video and report on the event. We are meeting again in mid-October for an all-day community information exchange in Maunabo. Our vision is to ensure network sustainability.
In late spring, our Puerto Rico director, Justin Auciello, joined a group of INGO representatives that meet regularly in San Juan to discuss ongoing recovery work, storm preparation, and resiliency.
The most powerful aspect of the group, just like our community network, is information sharing and coordination. In the event of another emergency -- we've already been tested by Hurricane Dorian and now, Tropical Storm Karen -- the group has a protocol that will go into effect and allow all member organizations to collaborate on the response. The Internews team will immediately tap our community network to understand issues on the ground throughout the island and assist with information gathering and the flow of critical "news you can use."
Internews provided support to WALO Radio, which has the largest reach in the region where Hurricane Maria made landfall, through late July to produce data-driven radio and digital reports surrounding the recovery topics of health, mental health, food security, and economic development. The reporting has led to increased awareness of ongoing gaps in the hurricane recovery.
El Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (The Center for Investigative Journalism)
In late May, Internews sponsored a data journalism training/workshop held by The Center for Investigative Journalism to train both the organization's members and journalists from outlets throughout the island on cutting-edge investigative reporting techniques. Journalists then developed their ideas, worked with subject matter experts in the health, mental health, food security, and economic development fields, and received scholarships to undertake their work. The goal? To expose gaps in the ongoing recovery. The first report, published in mid-September, found that Puerto Rico's mental health patients in Puerto Rico's criminal system have largely been forgotten -- a situation that has worsened since the hurricane.
Facebook: "Information as Aid" page
For almost two years, Internews has been publishing daily content on the "Information as Aid - Puerto Rico" Facebook page. We continue to provide critical "news you can use" and have been active with storm preparation with efforts in advance of Hurricane Dorian and Tropical Storm Karen.
We are grateful for the GlobalGiving community support that has allowed us to continue our recovery information work!
Over the last three months the team has continued its local reporting on health, mental health, food security, and economic development, with stories shared through the InfoAsAid Facebook page, via WhatsApp subscribers, and a monthly newsletter. In addition, reports are also available to read on a Medium page, Contigo: Experiencias Comunitarias (With you: Community Experiences), and are broadcast each week on WALO FM.
In late May and early June, we sponsored a three-day data journalism training with fellow INGO NetHope and hosted by the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (Center for Investigative Journalism), Puerto Rico's only investigative outlet. A noted data journalist led the training, which also featured presentations by experts in the themes of health, mental health, food security, and economic development. Attendees learned about the mechanics of data journalism, submitted proposals on investigative pieces across the four themes, and of those selected, are currently producing reports that are projected to be published across Centro de Periodismo Investigativo's syndication network by early August.
In late June we co-sponsored an all-day community information exchange event with NetHope, bringing together residents and local leaders across our focus communities and representatives of other INGOs (including Oxfam, International Medical Corps, and World Center Kitchen) to discuss their experiences, needs, and ideas for collaboration. We are currently in the early stages of assembling an information sharing network across Puerto Rico.
And the project recently joined a consortium of representatives of mainly INGOs and some local NGOs that formed in early 2019. The monthly meetings are an opportunity discuss relevant topics including preparation for the current hurricane season, and to spur collaboration. The meetings have led us to building closer relationships with fellow humanitarians that will lead to additional opportunities to ensure the flow of trusted information throughout Puerto Rico. At our recent community gathering in San Juan, some of the people featured in recent articles were able to attend, speak on their experiences, and meet representatives of INGOs that are currently providing services in Puerto Rico.
Thank you again for supporting InfoAsAid Puerto Rico!
Now three months into 2019, the InfoAsAid team is excited to share our program updates and plans for the rest of the year.
In January we deepened our partnership with Nethope to address the long-term recovery issues of health, mental health, food security, and economic development. Nethope is working with NGOs across the island to collect, aggregate, analyze and share data on these issues and create an accessible data portal that will allow NGOs as well as journalists to have a more comprehensive understanding of these issues and to identify gaps, overlaps and places for deeper investment.
The InfoAsAid team is addressing the four topics through journalism and local engagement, tracking and reporting on the data collected by NetHope, as well as contributing to it through active community engagement and listening. Our citizen journalists are working in the rural communities of Arecibo, Morovis, Toa Baja, Fajardo, Maunabo, and Arroyo, ensuring that people have opportunities to provide feedback, voice their concerns, and receive news and information that are relevant to their needs.
The news stories continue to be published on the InfoAsAid Facebook page (with nearly 72,000 followers!) and as weekly email newsletter, which are now also being printed and distributed as hard copies to reach people without regular internet access. Starting last month, the citizen reporters are also broadcasting their reports and sharing interviews through WALO FM radio—amplifying the reach of each story.
Finally, we are excited to announce that we have a new photojournalist starting with the team! Gabriella participated in the recent National Geographic Photo Camp and produced a photo essay on resilience in the aftermath of Hurricane María at coffee plantations in Adjuntas. She was selected as the 2017 Student Photographer of the Year in the Association of Puerto Rican Photojournalists competition and was awarded the José Ismael Fernández Photojournalism Scholarship, for which she interned at GFR Media, one of the largest news organizations on the island. Her images have been published in Revista Espacialidades, Revista Trasunto, Revista Brinca Verja, Primera Hora, and El Nuevo Día. In January she was shortlisted for the 2019 Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice fellowship. She was selected for the 2018 New York Times Lens Portfolio Review and the New York Times Summer Journalism Institute. One of her long-term goals is to establish a documentary photography curriculum in Puerto Rico. We are thrilled to have her join the team and lend her keen eye for visual storytelling.
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