From September 16, 2017 to October 2, 2017, Puerto Rico was drastically affected by Hurricane Maria, regarded the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since 2004. Over a year has passed, and although the news has moved on, Puerto Rico is far from “recovered.” The death toll still rises and a huge portion of the island is still without access to electricity or clean water. Most of the population that had the means to leave the country already has, leaving those who have no other options. Many of the locals, while thankful for the international relief effort, unfortunately lament that much of the effort has finished and, worse yet, has not prepared them at all for this year’s hurricane seasons or future disasters.
Darwin Animal Doctors was brought to Puerto Rico by Harimau Conservation. DAD has been working with Harimau Conservation for over a year now in Sumatra. Our projects have included rebuilding schools, rebuilding communities, and bringing knowledge sharing programs to the Leuser Ecosystem. Harimau Conservation is a Puerto Rican group, made up of local Puerto Ricans, who have an innate desire to help disadvantaged communities in precious ecosystems, that resemble Puerto Rico. Harimau Conservation started a local initiative in Puerto Rico, Rayo de Luna, to help rebuild the shattered neighbors and infrastructure alongside with the local communities. Rayo de Luna understands the power of knowledge, and endeavors to give communities the training to take care of themselves and prepare for future climate change disasters.
Where there are communities with no access to drinking water, Rayo de Luna has been building basic water towers for them. Where there is no electricity, Rayo de Luna has been building solar power infrastructure for local communities to have electricity.
We approached Rayo de Luna, asking if our DAD programs could benefit their efforts to rebuild Puerto Rico. The answer was a resounding YES!
We decided to work with Rayo de Luna instead of any other larger international relief group, because Rayo de Luna was made up of locals, who were embedded in the local communities, who understood local needs, values, and concerns. Their efforts have been targeted to the long term good of all who live in Puerto Rico. We decided to combine Rayo de Luna and DAD’s efforts to further our common goals in Puerto Rico: to foster long term sustainability while helping to rebuild with a focus on education infrastructure.
First, we are helping the locals rebuild a huge wildlife reserve in Morovis, which was used by the surrounding communities. This includes building a new ecology laboratory, tree nursery, and butterfly nursery to start repopulating the native flora and fauna and research capacity for the local communities.
Second, we are rebuilding the education infrastructure in the communities around the wildlife reserve at Morovis. Not only are we helping rebuild these primary schools around Morovis, and giving them our sustainability curriculum, but we are also helping train them to use the wildlife reserve to increase their research, observation, and cooperative project skills.
To read more about the Morovis Wildlife Reserve, Las Cabachuelas click here
To read more about the School Rebuilding and Education Program, click here