A Little Background
Photos by Teresa Marichal
Beginning at the end of December 2019, a series of earthquakes began rattling the southern part of Puerto Rico. By mid-January the region had experienced thousands of quakes, several larger than 5.8. 7,000 are living in tents, their homes destroyed by the constant shaking. Many of them are elderly with serious health needs. The earthquakes damaged a plant that supplies electricity to a third of the island, and because water has to be pumped to higher ground, thousands of homes lack water as well.
Don’t Give To The Big Guys
After Maria, Puerto Ricans saw how millions of dollars in relief funds did not turn into aid and right now, we are seeing more of the same. Reports and photos have surfaced of politicians holding up supplies, so that they can be placed in bags bearing their name during their photo op tours. Official relief efforts are crippled by party squabbles and a lack of foresight and compassion. Children and the elderly are battling rain, mosquitoes and temperatures above 80 degrees in makeshift tents.
But Puerto Ricans are not waiting for charity. Moving in caravans, they have loaded their cars with water, food and medicines and they have come to the aid of the displaced families. The government meanwhile, has sent the National Guard to build better tents, but does not have a long term plan for the permanently displaced, the crops they left behind, or the obliterated economy of the entire southern region.
Give To Grassroots Groups
I would suggest you donate to Puerto Rican initiatives and groups that have demonstrated their accountability to the people. It is fine to donate to World Kitchens, for example, but donating to Puerto Rican organizations builds much-needed capacity and leadership at a time of trickle-down federal funds. Your donation supports the leadership of a new generation of socially-conscious Puerto Ricans aware that they cannot rely on their government.
After Maria, the Bay Area Puerto Rican diaspora got organized. We have been gathering information on local grass-root groups who have been running community kitchens, offering free clinics and mental health counseling, housing the displaced, repairing homes and roads, and establishing sustainable community gardens. Some of us went to visit these groups to see what they had been doing with post-Maria contributions. So we can vouch for them, but I recommend you look at their FB pages to see the work they have done.
If you don’t have money but want to help, share this page with five other people. Do you know anyone who can send books and comics in Spanish, art materials, or hygiene products? Tell others what you’ve learned. Press coverage will disappear as soon as the next crisis arises.
BRIGADA SOLIDARIA DEL OESTE
The Brigada Solidaria is a grassroots group supporting the development of “collective processes in communities and to promote grassroots community efforts.” After Maria, they “secured resources to support the reconstruction of homes, the revitalization of community gardens and green spaces, and the installation of solar panels and communities on the western region of the islands.” They are helping earthquake victims by providing food to the community kitchen of eight camps near Guánica. See their FB page.
Donate through Pay Pal firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate through a check to Eury Orsini, Calle Mariano Abril, 101A, Bo. Buena Vista, Mayagüez, PR 00680
This collective develops literacy among the teens and children living in poverty via folktales and stories written by local authors. They tell stories and read books to children in remote areas of the island. They are helping earthquake victims by visiting camps for the displaced and giving art-making workshops, reading stories and performing for the anxious children and adults still experiencing earthquakes each day. See their FB page.
Donate through a check to Colectivo Contarte, Pamplona 573, Urb Valencia, San Juan, 00923
Send Spanish language books or art materials to Colectivo Contarte, Pamplona 573, Urb Valencia, San Juan, 00923
PROYECTO SALUD Y ACUPUNTURA PARA EL PUEBLO
They provide healing spaces using the N.A.D.A auricular protocol, which is used worldwide in disaster areas to help with post-traumatic stress and mental health problems such as anxiety. Since before Maria, this group has been running weekly clinics all over the island, and training new leaders. El Proyecto has served more than 350 people since the earthquakes began, and has continued visiting the growing number of encampments in the south. See their FB Page
Donate via Pay Pal https://www.paypal.me/LuisBonnet
ESCUELA DE APICULTURA DEL ESTE
The Beekeeping School of the East is a grassroots organization that rescues beehives, studies the africanized Puerto Rican bees, and runs education programs in public schools across the island. They have trained more than 1,000 volunteers. The school maintains more than 100 beehives in the five southern towns most affected by the earthquakes. All of the beehives are showing signs of extreme stress and 15% have been lost. To make matters worse, the excessive rains for this time of the year have decimated the flora on which they depend. This grassroots group is asking for protein patties for the many affected beehives in the areas where the earthquakes are hitting. See their FB page.
Contact Dr Hermes Conde Navarro at 787-215-4844 to send bee food
Donate with a check Hermes Conde Navarro, Calle Lago D #13, Urb Altamira, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, 00738