Supporting Mutual Aid Efforts in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Fiona
When we ask community leaders in Puerto Rico what they learned after Hurricane María, most say a variation of: The government doesn’t have our back; community and mutual aid are the key for surviving the aftermath of a natural event. In the week since Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the Southwest of Puerto Rico, networks within the archipelago and beyond have activated to assess the needs of the most affected communities, clear roads, and bring supplies.
There is still a lot we don’t know about the effects of Hurricane Fiona because there are sectors in the most affected region, the Southwest of Puerto Rico, where communication has not been established. However, if there is one thing that we learned after Hurricanes Irma, María, the earthquakes and the pandemic is that el pueblo salva al pueblo—communities save communities.
We decided to compile a list of small, grassroots organizations that are:
- Focused on aiding people in the most impacted areas
- Offering food or places of gathering amidst massive power outages
- Farming, have lost their harvest, and need to start over once again
- Organizations focused on rebuilding houses
If you don’t have time to read all the information, two foundation-types organizations we trust are María Fund and ConPRmetidos. They both fund smaller, community-based groups according to the need of the moment.
But if you want to directly impact groups outside of the metropolitan area, we hope you find an initiative that resonates with your values. If you don’t have the financial means, you can still support them by sharing their work with your network.
If you know other organizations that you’d like us to add email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grassroots organizations in the most impacted areas
IDEBAJO y Comité Diálogo Ambiental
Salinas y Guayama
IDEBAJO y Comité Diálogo Ambiental are nonprofit organizations that address social inequality, environmental protection, and sustainable development. The organizations are raising money to distribute the funds to members of their communities directly affected by Hurricane Fiona.
Nelson Santos Torres, spokesperson for IDEABAJO, expressed in a written communication: “We want the resources to be directed mainly to promoting the strengthening of the base, denouncing and addressing the structural problems that impede the development of our communities, while we mitigate the pressing needs of our people.”
Institute for Socio-Ecological Research (ISER Caribe)
ISER Caribe is an organization that through research and community participation supports the ecological restoration of coral reefs, potable water research, and climate change science. They have been assessing the needs of people in the Southwest and determined that they need solar lamps, water filtration systems, non-perishable food, OTC medicines, and materials to rebuild homes. In addition to supporting efforts in Puerto Rico, they are channeling efforts to Samaná, Dominican Republic. “Our goals are to offer long-term solutions that improve the quality of life of communities made invisible by the political-economic system that prevails in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The funds raised will support our technical assistance and communities to develop redundancy with respect to essential service systems for electricity, drinking water, agriculture and analog communication. Our work will be focused on helping these communities resist the onslaught of future disaster events caused by atmospheric phenomena such as hurricanes Irma, María and Fiona,” they stated.
Support via PayPal
Read here to directly support Samaná.
Centro de Apoyo Mutuo en Utuado
El Centro de Apoyo Mutuo en Utuado is a community initiative that offers health fairs, agroecology workshops, and popular education. The group was formed in October 2017 after Hurricane Maria hit. “We have never stopped working and co-building! In this difficult moment we continue with the work and support, as such, any material donation and/or resources for the mountains will be channeled to the people, from our political-territorial practice, to those who need it”, they explained on their instagram.
EspicyNipples Transfeminist Network
EspicyNipples is a transfeminist network that tells stories of the lives of TILQAPBG+, women, poor, black, immigrants, single parents, and indigenous people using popular media. The network has experience carrying out brigades and expressed that they will be “supporting the southern and western areas since they have been the most affected. Prioritizing, as always, black trans masculine people, trans women and non-binary people from our TILQAPBG+ communities.”
Brigada Solidaria del Oeste
The Brigada Solidaria del Oeste (BSO) was formed after Hurricane María and its method is to visit families from the West, identify needs and distribute resources. Together with other organizations, it has organized a collection and distribution center for food and essential supplies for residents in the South and West of Puerto Rico. “We have seen a lot of need, from people with food shortages, houses without roofs, older people unable to make way to their residences, among many more,” Damary Burgos said in a press release asking for the emergency disaster declaration to include Western and Southern municipalities.
Send direct aid to: PO Box 1073, Boquerón P.R 00622
Community centers and kitchens
Centro de Apoyo Mutuo Buscarabones Unido CAMBU
After the passage of Hurricane María, the Bucarabones community in Las Marías came together to clean roads and help each other. Shortly after, in October 2017, they rescued an abandoned school and turned it into a center for educational, cultural and recreational development. The CAMBU headquarters is solar powered and they are offering a power oasis to residents of Las Marías and surrounding towns to charge devices, refrigerate medications or access the internet.
ATH MÓVIL: /CAMBU
Mujeres de Islas
Mujeres de Islas is a nonprofit community organization that uses educational tools to move Vieques towards sustainable development. Along with other organizations, they rescued an abandoned school and transformed it into Sede de Experiencias Vivas de Aprendizaje (SEVA). After the passage of Hurricane Fiona, SEVA has provided open doors to the community that does not have electricity to recharge electronics since they have solar energy. In addition, they bought the inventory of the local fishermen to help them not lose their yield and will offer free fish broth every Tuesday.
Donate through www.mujeresdeislas.com
Mail check to Apartado 358, Culebra, P.R. 00775
La Conde / Parceleras AfroCaribeñas
La Conde (the former Carlos Conde Marín School, closed in 2017) is a space created by Parceleras AfroCaribeñas, a community organization led by a group of intergenerational Afro-Caribbean women leaders, activists, and artists whose mission is to carry out social justice projects among the communities of San Antón, Saint Just and Los Mirtos. After the passage of Hurricane Fiona, the community kitchen has been receiving donations to offer lunches to all members of the community as well as black, Afro-descendant and LGTBIQ+ people; Monday through Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. “The neighborhood still has sectors without water and without electricity. This affects access to food, our community faces many challenges that increase in times of disaster because there is no response from the government.”
Taller Escuela Pescantil
The Taller Escuela Pescantil is a developing non-profit that will teach the basics of fishing to young people in Loíza. Founder, Anabela Fuentes, activated a community kitchen after the passage of Hurricane María and is now reactivating it after the passage of Fiona.
Support via ATH/tallerescuelapescantil02
Piñones Aprende Y Emprende (PAYE)
PAYE is a community project that rescued the Emiliano Figueroa Torres school to offer tutoring, workshops and educational experiences to the children and young people of Piñones. After Fiona’s passage they have been making to-go food for the affected communities.
La Comuna Cajey
La Comuna Cajey, is a community organization and social enterprise in Las Vegas, Cayey. On Thursday, September 22, they began the initiative ‘El Fogon de Cajey’, which is preparing food for peoplein need in their community including elders, bedridden folks, and children. Its objective is to be able to help the rural areas of Cayey, including the communities of Las Vegas, Farallon, Cedro and Guavate. “In many homes there is no water or electricity service; many families are cleaning up and organizing after Hurricane Fiona. But here we are with neighbors committed to giving what we have to those who need it,” they stated. In addition, they are channeling aid to the most affected families in the area.
ATH Móvil Business/LaComunaCajeyInc
Finca Flor del Ají
Finca Flor del Ají is an agroecological project that makes snacks, dressings, jams, teas, juices, pickles and desserts. After Hurricane Fiona, the farm lost crops and seedbeds. Because they did not have electricity and water service, they were unable to preserve the crops that had been able to survive the rainfall. For this reason, they launched ‘Adopt an Agricultural Project’. In the last week, they have “been able to buy local products to donate to those who have needed them, we have helped other small farmers who lost their crops, we have been able to buy crops from others who had nowhere (or how) to sell it.” Now they want to continue visiting other agricultural projects and support however they can. “The people will bring back our country’s agriculture” they say.
Colectivo Agroecológico Guakiá
Guakía is a community space and agroecological farm in San Carlos, Dorado that serves as a safe space for women in agriculture. In the aftermath of the hurricane their efforts have focused on providing supplies, hot meals and wellness services to the surrounding community.
Forgotten Forest | Puentes Naturales
Forgotten Forest is an organization that has been working with farmers in Adjuntas, Lares, and Ponce. Since the passage of the hurricane they have been harvesting coffee and organizing brigades to support the farmers in their network and rescue the harvest.
Mi Patria is a nonprofit organization focused on empowering communities in Isabela, Puerto Rico. After Fiona, Mi Patria shifted its focus to disaster relief and community assistance. The team is working with the municipalities of Isabela and Aguadilla to clear roads and have been receiving volunteers to impact communities in Isabela, Añasco, Utuado, Yauco, Lares and Las Marías. They have also helped elderly, local Isabela farms to save their facilities and crops, donating investors, gasoline and food and water to those in need, and putting up tarps.
PRoTechos is a non-profit organization that emerged after Hurricane Maria, because of the need to help rebuild infrastructure; especially, replacing the blue tarps with strong roofs. Following the passage of Hurricane Fiona, PRoTechos has been collaborating with affected municipalities and communities in Puerto Rico. Last week they were working in Maricao, La Perla, Cataño and Toa Baja, confirming that both the projects carried out prior to Fiona are still safe, and making sure to work on the current projects in order to organize themselves and continue providing support to communities in need.
If you know other organizations that you’d like us to add email email@example.com.
This story was written by Camille Padilla Dalmau, Paulette Arenas with support from Frances Medina and copy-edited by Julia Taveras of Film Translation Board.