In September 2017, Hurricane Maria violently hit the island of Puerto Rico, killing nearly 3,000 people and destroying many hospitals, homes and public buildings. On this American territory, it is the strongest storm in the last 91 years, decimating the electrical network and water supply systems, already weakened, cutting the roads and isolating many villages. For several months, thousands of people had no longer access to healthcare. Even less to education. Katherine Trujillo, coordinator of the project in the United States, tells us.
How to rebuild and reconstruct ourselves after a disaster? What role can local people play? Last spring, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières went to the Caribbean Island for an exploratory mission to assess the situation and the damages on the ground. With the help of the island’s inhabitants, we set up pilot projects in two communities. Especially in the district of La Perla, around the capital San Juan, already well slaughtered by violence, crime, drug trafficking and severe austerity measures.
“With the help of several local associations and small businesses, we have set up and run an Ideas Box to encourage the creativity of people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. By equipping them with the resources and tools needed to rebuild after the storm, it quickly became a space where everyone can borrow power tools to repair broken furniture, attend courses on social entrepreneurship or to be well accompanied in his administrative steps.” Explains Katherine.