Hurricanes Irma and María devastated many Caribbean islands, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the aftermath of hurricanes, The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) promptly created the UVI Rise Fund to provide assistance to students, faculty and staff that were affected by the storms. De Pueblo a Pueblo-Narra Foundation donated $3500 to the excellent relief efforts organized by The University of the Virgin Islands. Our support enabled the UVI Rise Relief Fund to purchase power generators to the community, established community kitchens, fixed homes of students and families, including providing new furniture. The funds are also providing financial aid for students who lost everything and whose families are without jobs, thus cannot continue with their education. This way, De Pueblo a Pueblo benefited many college students and staff by providing them with needed resources through the recovery period.
The September of 2017 earthquakes in Mexico not only destroyed homes and took lives but they also affected the regional economies in Juchitán, Oaxaca, Mexico. The Comité Melendre, a community grassroots organization, launched initiatives aimed at reactivating the regional economies of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec area in Oaxaca. De Pueblo a Pueblo-Narra Foundation selected two of the Comité Melendre’s projects, both of which are lead by women:
1) The Tejiendo Hermandad (Weaving Sisterhood/Brotherhood) initiative seeks to reenergize the full chain of weavers’ regional economy: carpenters, fabric and thread merchants, artists and weavers who make huipiles or traditional female indigenous garments.
2) “Adopta un horno” (“Adopt an Oven,”) provides clay ovens to food makers who lost them in the earthquake. By having these ovens, corn-food producers can earn their living, and help reestablish the economic vitality of the region.
On April 18, 2018, De Pueblo a Pueblo donated $3500 to Comité Melendre. This money is financing clay ovens for 25 families, and 15 huipiles for elderly women who lost their homes to the September 2017 earthquakes. In addition, De Pueblo a Pueblo donation is providing fabric and threads for one weaver.
De Pueblo a Pueblo modest yet heartfelt contribution is undoubtedly making a difference in the lives of many families in the state of Oaxaca. This way, De Pueblo a Pueblo fulfilled its goals of facilitating economic activities that provide revenues to a community, supporting local businesses, and rebuilding disenfranchised communities.
De Pueblo a Pueblo identified another major grassroots organization doing excellent work and yet in great need: the student-led community kitchens of the Comedores Sociales of the Centro para el Desarrollo Político, Educativo y Cultural (CDPEC). One of the community kitchens serves the Universidad de Puerto Rico-Río Piedras’ needy students, where they can eat in exchange of a monetary contribution, voluntary help or food donation. The CDPEC also opened a Centro de Ayuda Mutua (CAM), a community center that feeds needy people and provide health programing in the town of Caguas. They also have their own vegetable garden that provides some of the food of the CAM, a library and a physical space to provide education to the community.
On April 7, 2018, Professor Raquel Anderson delivered a check in the amount of $3,500 on behalf of De Pueblo a Pueblo-Narra Foundation to Giovani Roberto, leader of the CDPEC. The success of this grassroots organization inspired the creation of a community kitchen at the Universidad de Puerto Rico- Cayey campus, a community center in the town of Yabucoa and the rural Mariana neighborhood in the mountain region of Humacao. De Pueblo a Pueblo-Narra Foundation is proud to support such important grassroot work that is delivering food and services to the needy while promoting solidarity and self-sufficiency.
De Pueblo a Pueblo-Narra Foundation is addressing major needs at the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) in Río Piedras. Serving the largest campus of the public university system, the José M. Lázaro Library houses unique Puerto Rican heritage collections. Fortunately, the library administration received support from the higher university officials, and took immediate action to preserve the invaluable collections. The Lázaro Library was able to address mold infestation and polluted air in a timely manner, enabling the opening the Puerto Rican Heritage Collection to researchers two weeks ago. One of the major needs identified by library administration were scanners to digitize and thus preserve at-risk heritage collections from future natural disasters and make them available to library users.
On May 4, 2018, Professor Arlene Díaz, on behalf of De Pueblo a Pueblo-Narra Foundation, made an in-kind donation of two overhead document scanners to Professors Miguel Santiago and Myra Torres, director and associate director, respectively, of the UPR-Río Piedras library system. For them, the support from De Pueblo a Pueblo demonstrates the Bloomington community’s commitment and solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico.
De Pueblo a Pueblo and Narra Foundation have made a difference at the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) in Humacao. Serving a large underserved student population, this campus suffered the most devastation from Hurricane María. Our help focused on the Águedo Mojica Marrero Library, whose building suffered major structural damages. This repository houses unique Puerto Rican heritage collections, such as the Santiago Iglesias Pantín labor movement collection and the personal library of Luis Rafael Sánchez, the prominent contemporary writer and intellectual.
On May 2, 2018, Professor Arlene Díaz, on behalf of De Pueblo a Pueblo~Narra Foundation, delivered much needed equipment to Professor Milagros Rodríguez, the librarian in charge of these invaluable collections. Priority was given to the purchase of dehumidifiers, blower fans and humidity meters as there is an urgency to mitigate the humidity inside the repository. Water leaking from the ceiling and walls are causing damage to books and manuscript collections. Mold has invaded the library space, attacking books, documents, furniture, walls, and acoustic ceilings inside. While all of the library holdings are at risk, the Iglesias Pantín collection is currently the most affected by the mold invasion. Many of these archival materials date back to the late nineteenth century.
The first picture below is of Professors Rodríguez and Díaz with a carload of dehumidifiers and fans. Additional pictures show the items donated by De Pueblo a Pueblo at use inside the third floor of the UPR-Humacao Águedo Mojica Marrero Library. As can be appreciated from these May 4, 2018 photographs, the current conditions at the library are of great concern as they constitute a health hazard to library staff and users. The third group of pictures, taken in February 2018, show mold damage to the Santiago Iglesias Pantín collection, a national patrimony of the Puerto Rican people.
For Professor Rodríguez, the contributions she has received from De Pueblo a Pueblo~Narra Foundation, and from concerned individual faculty members at various U.S. universities, has meant the world to her. Not only will the donated equipment help mitigate the current hazardous conditions inside the library building, but also the solidarity received from U.S.-based concerned citizens will provide her with the energy to keep caring for these heritage collections under very challenging circumstances. Through these efforts, De Pueblo a Pueblo~Narra Foundation is fulfilling its mission of providing direct help to where it is acutely needed.
Many relief organizations had come and gone by the time IU senior Korbin Clark arrived on the island. Clark, who studies marketing in the Kelley School of Business and documentary filmmaking in The Media School, traveled to San Juan and Humacao from Feb. 4-8 to plan and gather content for the creation of a website and documentary to help the campuses rebuild. His project is part of a partnership project between The Media School and Bloomington’s Pueblo a Pueblo, an organization that provides programs in health, education and food security in rural communities in Latin America.
De Pueblo a Pueblo (From People to People) was sparked by a group of concerned citizens in Bloomington Indiana after the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and María, and the two large earthquakes in Mexico in September of 2017. Then and still now there is an urgency to help. Neglected by their respective local and federal governments, the people in these nations need a humanitarian hand to uplift them so they can stand back on their feet again. Guided by the words of Nobel Prize Elinor Ostrom, we started to contact “the people on the spot” (Governing the Commons, 1990) to learn about their their needs and assess solutions. As a result of several weeks of conversations with various people raging from community leaders to everyday citizens, we will focus our fund drive efforts toward a common pillar of our community: Education.
By addressing the needs of institutions that focus on education, we are helping the core and future of the reconstruction process. A functional school and university provide the normalcy and stability younger generations need in the midst of destruction and chaos. It is critical for college students to continue their education, as this will prepare them to creatively find effective solutions to the pressing problem of these societies. In addition, schools and universities give back to the local communities by providing needed employment and working on projects that address critical needs.
The strength of De Pueblo a Pueblo lies in its research ability and connections in those places to identify the critical needs and effective projects led by the “people on the spot.” We are calling these efforts ‘People to People’ precisely because the aid will go directly from our local community to benefit a number of grassroots, people-led community projects in Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Rather than supporting one big single project, De Pueblo a Pueblo is contributing to different endeavors that facilitate local people’s efforts to address critical community needs and rebuild in a stronger and sustainable way. We believe that contributing, even in small ways, highlights and empowers people-led projects which provide needed emotional support and encouragement to those working on the spot.
These are the education projects De Pueblo a Pueblo will focus on:
- Elementary schools: Given the financial hardships that the educational system in Puerto Rico is going through after Hurricanes Irma and María, schools that have literature-based curricular projects currently struggle to acquire and replace lost and damaged books in their children’s literature collections. De Pueblo a Pueblo is working with five elementary schools in critical need and in areas that still lack power like Bayamón and Humacao. Your contribution to De Pueblo a Pueblo will help provide quality children’s books for elementary schools as well as needed school supplies.
- De Pueblo a Pueblo will contribute computer equipment to improve access to and preservation of invaluable cultural heritage and research collection at risk through digitization. Due to structural damaged caused by hurricanes, humidity inside these buildings is causing a major mold outbreak that is affecting many library resources. As a result, many libraries in the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) system are currently closed as they pose a health hazard for both library patrons and staff. Providing digital access to library collections can effectively meet the needs of library users, and also contribute to ensure the long-term preservation of library resources.
- For the University of the Virgin Islands, De Pueblo a Pueblo will contribute to its rebuilding general fund that is effectively addressing their campus as well as its community needs.
- Innovative college students’ and grassroots projects that address critical community problems:
- De Pueblo a Pueblo will contribute to student-led community kitchens that help both students and local communities in need. Our efforts will focus on the soup kitchens developed by the Centro para el Desarrollo Político, Educativo y Cultural (CDPEC) at several campuses of the Universidad de Puerto Rico. Much more than a soup kitchen, this grassroots promotes agriculture, sustainability and solidarity.
- Comité Melendre is a local business effort based in Oaxaca that has channeled aid to people affected by the September earthquakes. Established in 2004 in Juchitán, this non-profit organization seeks to empower civil society, focusing on sustainability as well social, cultural and educational projects. Its program Canasta básica istmeña supports local business—buying directly from producers and sellers in Istmo de Tehuantepec. More info is available at here.
De Pueblo a Pueblo is working in partnership with The Narra Foundation, a local Bloomington non-profit, to make a difference in our sister communities. Your contribution will be tax-deductible and will directly benefit those in need, from people to people.
When a string of tropical storms ripped through Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Caribbean and the U.S. Virgin Islands in late August and early September, many Latin Americans in Bloomington had the same reaction: shock.
After scrambling to track down family members and friends living in the area, shock turned quickly to mobilization. Now, several Indiana University faculty and staff members have turned that mobilization into the fundraising initiative de Pueblo a Pueblo, or in English, From People to People.
“There was a real sense of urgency from people here at IU to not sit passively and to actually do something,” said Carmen Medina, associate professor in the School of Education and one of the founders of From People to People.