Donate To Grassroots Groups

A Little Background

Photos by Teresa Marichal

Photo of people hugging each other under a tent

Nothing can beat the desire to help others that is part of our culture.

 

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 brigadasolidariadeloeste@gmail.com
Donate through a check to Eury Orsini, Calle Mariano Abril, 101A, Bo. Buena Vista, Mayagüez, PR 00680

COLECTIVO CONTARTE

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

TECHOS PA’ MI  GENTE
Techos Pa’ Mi Gente (Roofs For My People) began as a volunteer-run effort after Maria, initially to provide free tarps to residents and later, more permanent roofs. Techos has become known for its transparency and commitment to those forgotten by FEMA. They have been staffing collection centers in various parts of the island, repairing homes of the elderly, taking supplies to several communities in Yauco and Guayanilla. Please notice that they are a non-profit listed as TPMG Corp. See their FB page.
Donate through a check TPMG Corp., PO Box 1461, Trujillo Alto, PR 00976
Donate through Pay Pal www.tpmgcorp.org
Photo of people taking supplies out of a car

This is the aid that the displaced got, from people just like them.

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

Photo of a woman with a biblioteca

Each camp has received a library in a tub and the children are in charge of it.

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

BANCO DE ALIMENTOS DE PUERTO RICO

Since 1988, the Puerto Rican Food Bank aims to end food insecurity on the elderly, children, domestic violence victims, the sick, the homeless and the poor, developing Puerto Ricans’ own capacity to address hunger. This food bank is a non-profit. They are collecting food in various parts of the island, and distributing it to the more than 5,000 displaced residents sleeping in camps. See their FB page.
Donate through a check PO BOX 2989, Bayamón, Puerto Rico 00960-2989