Efforts Focus on Restoring and Improving Early Learning and Education Programs, Helping Children Emotionally Heal, Building Resilience, Preparing for Next Emergency
SAN JUAN (September 20, 2018) - Puerto Rico continues to struggle a year after Hurricane María – the largest disaster in the U.S. territory since 1928 – made landfall. In rural and mountainous areas across the island, children and families remain without reliable power or access to clean water. Save the Children, the national leader for children in emergencies, was on the ground in Puerto Rico within 96 hours of the storm and remains dedicated to the children and families most affected by the catastrophic storm.
“A year later, children are still struggling across Puerto Rico. Children are always the most vulnerable in emergencies, and Save the Children is committed to support long-term recovery efforts,” said Mark Shriver, Save the Children’s Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs & Advocacy. “Last year’s hurricane season was the costliest in our nation’s history, and we’ve seen first-hand just how devastating these storms have been to children.”
In the earliest days of the disaster, Save the Children’s Emergency Response Team led nearly 200 emergency aid distributions and trainings for community leaders, teachers, social workers and parent volunteers to implement community-based children’s activities to support children’s emotional wellbeing. The nonprofit continues to work with communities, local partners, government and island-wide academic institutions to restore, improve and expand early learning and education programs to help children get back to learning and return to normalcy. Save the Children is focusing efforts on 12 of the most affected municipalities including the coastal municipalities where Hurricane María first made landfall and the rural, remote mountainous communities that were devastated by the storm.
In collaboration with local partners, Save the Children continues to provide children and their caregivers with social and emotional support through our evidence-based Journey of Hope and Healing and Education through the Arts programs. Journey of Hope helps children and caregivers cope with the trauma of loss, reduce stress and become more resilient. To date, more than 1,600 children have benefitted.
With a commitment to help children return to learning, Save the Children partnered with the American Red Cross to support 38 summer programs so that more than 2,700 children who lost hundreds of days of school could get extra educational time. The camps were enhanced with Save the Children’s Prep Rally emergency preparedness program, teaching children basic preparedness skills. Children learned to develop an emergency plan with their families and receive an emergency go-bag filled with essential supplies. In addition, Save the Children provided emergency grants to child-care programs and supplies to help 86 Early Head Start, Head Start continue to operate, serving more than 2,000 children.
“Save the Children is proud of what we’ve accomplished for the children of Puerto Rico since María wreaked havoc on the U.S. territory and will continue collaborate with communities to do whatever it takes to help children and families most affected recover,” said Luis Soto, Save the Children’s Puerto Rico Director. “When we build and grow the resilience of children, communities flourish.”
To ensure children can continue to learn even when power is disrupted, Save the Children is partnering with the Puerto Rico Department of Education and the Rocky Mounty Institute to design and install solar microgrids at 12 schools across the island. On September 27, Save the Children will participate in a Solar Celebration at Angel “Papo” Rafael Díaz Colón in the Saltos community in Orocovis to mark this accomplishment. Through community engagement efforts, Save the Children will also support early childhood development, afterschool and social and emotional programs, provide nutrition guidance and lead emergency preparedness activities for families at the 12 schools to holistically support children.
Next week, Save the Children’s Senior Advisor for U.S. Emergencies Jeanne-Aimée DeMarrais will participate in a Congressional Briefing hosted by the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico about how children and youth are faring one year after the storm.
To learn more about and to support Save the Children’s Hurricane María response and ongoing recovery work, visit www.SavetheChildren.org/Hurricane-Maria. To see how Save the Children has supported Puerto Rico’s children and families, please visit YouTube.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Interviews are available with Save the Children spokespeople including Puerto Rico Team Leader Luis Soto, from San Juan. Please contact Sara Neumann at firstname.lastname@example.org (203) 209-6545 to coordinate.