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.
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.