Supporting Community in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Irma and Maria have devastated Puerto Rico leaving the entire island of 3.4 million without power, damaged hospitals, schools, homes and roads. Several organizations and community leaders within and outside of Puerto Rico are pulling resources together to provide an immediate response to this humanitarian crisis which is urgently needed.

What else is needed is ongoing support of sustainable community-led initiatives.

My mother, Mayra Yadira Vargas Cotto, lives in Sabana Grande. Seven years ago, she created a bilingual daycare and summer camp that has serviced over a hundred families in the area including families in San German, Yauco, and Ponce.

Thankfully, the daycare and my mother's home (located on the same plot of land) were not damaged. It is from here where she would like to support the local communities. She wants to expand the services and resources that the childcare center provides the community.

This gofundme request is to create the following initiatives:

I. Buy satellite cell phone for the community to create a call center. This call center will be used by community members to contact loved ones and to manage resources from within and outside of the island.

II. Provide scholarships to the 30 local families so that children can attend the daycare for free for at least one month. It cost $70 a week for a child to attend 5 full days of daycare. By covering this fee, children will be in a safe space playing and learning, parents are relieved to fix up their homes, help neighbors, clean up the roads and teachers can continue to earn a salary to support their families. This small amount of money can create a huge impact in a community.

III. Create a food and medical supply fund for local families to be distributed at the daycare. My mother is currently in Austin Texas and flying back to Puerto Rico in mid-October with as many packages as allowed by Jetblue airlines. My brother in Austin is a US postal carrier and will continue to accept physical donations at his home and ship them to the daycare immediately after local Puerto Rican postal services are restored (within two weeks time).

IV. Create a community garden program for the daycare where children, teachers, neighbors can plant and cultivate some fruit and vegetables. With over 90% of the farms destroyed by the hurricanes, the island will be relying almost 100% on imports. This community gardening program will not be able to provide all the food needed by the families. It is a seed planted in the right direction that will also provide educational and community-building opportunities for all involved.

These four community initiatives are the priority right now.

All of the contributions will go to fund the scholarships and to buy needed supplies for the childrens families and the wider community (this includes the seeds and soil for the garden). 

I will be distributing the funds to and working with both Mayra Y. Vargas (my mother & Daycare Owner ) and Neida Rodriguez Caraballo (Daycare Director) of "Let's Learn Daycare" to manage and distribute all the contributions directly to the community. 

If you have contacts to organizations and/or resources that can support these initiatives (connections with satellite phone companies or educational resources, urban horticultural materials, etc.) please leave me a message.

We thank you for your support!
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Yadira Perez Hazel 
Sabana Grande, PR
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