Residents of the Arenas community in Guanica, PR.
As we hit the three-month lockdown mark, communities in Puerto Rico are coming together to support the most vulnerable. Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico, through its NGO partners, has reached more than 11,000 individuals in 50 communities and has awarded 30 grants totaling $626,577.
Organizations from the southern part of Puerto Rico to the municipal island of Culebra, in the East Region, are organizing communities to provide food, health supplies, and administering tests and tracing contacts among many other personalized services depending on the needs of the families.
One of our grantees - VAMOS - working with Arenas Community in the South of Puerto Rico, has shown what true resiliency is all about. When the pandemic began, they organized themselves to have a better understanding of the demographics of their community. They started surveying the families in the community, with 116 families, more than 50% of the population is over 55 years old. Almost 20% of the homes did not have a means of transportation and there were 30 people unable to take care of themselves. The community organized itself and put together an education and containment plan that included: alliance with a local laboratory to provide the community with tests, health practitioners visited families to educate and provide medical referrals, and the provision of food and health prevention equipment, such as masks.
The health pandemic became a window for economic activity for its residents. After initially buying masks and other equipment, they organized themselves to manufacture the masks. They established a group of seamstresses that elaborated over 1,000 masks. These were sold at $4 with a revenue distribution as follows: $1 to purchase material, $1 for the Arenas Community Fund, and $2 for the seamstresses. This innovative approach, allowed them to act on behalf of the well being of the community by providing access to this essential health prevention piece, but also to plan for the future of the community by establishing a community fund and stimulating job creation.
Within the communities our 30 grantees have been working on, ZERO DEATHS, have been reported.