The following are the images of a pdf presentation of the AMURT and AMURTEL relief in Puerto Rico. At the end of the presentation the Puerto Rico Final Report by Dada Vimaleshananda
Puerto Rico Final Report
December 1st 2017
by Acarya Vimaleshananda Avadhuta
First of all I would like to thank AMURT and AMURTEL for the opportunity to go to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. I arrived on October 7, 2017 in San Juan and the day after I could reach Mayaguez in the West side of the island.
On October 8 in the first meeting at the Institute of Community Development of the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez I was introduced to the group of professors and students that has been doing the relief work till today.
The relief has been concentrated for three weeks in one single locality, which is Agnasco Playa where we worked in close coordination with the community leader who accompanied us in all activities.
Soon more AMURT and AMURTEL volunteers joined the Team and they helped to distribute food, clean up houses, supporting the activities that were conducted always in group with several car loaded with supplies.
We participated to meetings of the Brigadas Solidarias dell’Oeste, which met regularly on Fridays and they provided most of the food supplies for the University and AMURT Team. The arrival of the solar lamps and water filters with our volunteers helped to diversify the type of help encouraging to go in the most remote areas in the mountains of Maricao and Las Marias.
After a brief exploration conducted by our team we determined to engage in Maricao and the University supported our initiative organizing several trips in the remote areas of the Indieras in Maricao and Los Naranjales in Las Marias.
The style of relief that we adopted has been consistent in all the period of intervention: walking house by house assessing the damage and talking with the families. In this way we could direct the help for those who where in need. With their help we could get list of families to distribute solar lamps, clothing, water filters, food and hygienic supplies.
Some of the people visited were deeply moved by our service and started crying as the authorities or federal institution where invisible in the field of action. Only after one and a half month of continuous service we started seeing some institutional entities going and distributing supplies. We still found families that didn’t have water or electricity and who welcomed warmly our service.
We documented the deliveries with images and videos whenever possible and some of the stories that the survivors told were deeply touching. Like one man who held the door for several hours bracing the force of the hurricane and avoiding a major loss in the house or another who swam to the house of a neighbour to give relief. Most people lamented that the lack of news was the most difficult situation they had to face. Weeks of isolation in the mountains proved a big test for many families.
We always brought food to distribute and everybody accepted gladly our visit that was so enthusiastic and warm due to the presence of the young students and also of our volunteers. Our presence was making the difference, as we were the only international organization reaching out in the communities.
In the last weeks AMURT and AMURTEL took lead to visit the communities near Sabana Grande distributing food, solar lamps and water filters. The university continued to be engaged with organizing major events for lifting the spirits of the families and children in the communities of Agnasco Palaya and Las Maria . In Las Marias we served 250 people in the premises of the Mayor office and we helped also in Agnasco Playa with Yoga and Meditation during a festival organized by local organizations.
Finally we participated to the “Carovana Violeta” a day dedicated to all women. During the event we taught specific dances and yoga techniques and we had opportunity to meet the Mayor of Mayaguez who extended his appreciation in the name of the City.
We offered a regular yoga class every Wednesday in the Institute of Community Development for the benefit of the students and faculty connected to “Siempre Vivas” which is an organization defending the women survivors of violence. In the last class we offered a special workshop on emotional intelligence conducted by one of our volunteers.
Two more special workshops were given on depression and post-traumatic stress with the participation of around 200 students and faculties in the two sessions. Finally a special Conversation on Economic Decentralization focused on the long-term plan addressing long term social and economic issues.
The Institute of Community Development gave credit to AMURT and AMURTEL for the work done by issuing certificates of appreciation and remain in close relationship in order to further two operation still on-going: one for the delivering of one container of needed supplies and one for the installation of 10 Solar Outreach Stations providing water purification and electrical power for charging cellular phones and laptops.
All volunteers of AMURT and AMURTEL including board members have provided continuous support for the success of the relief activities during the entire period which stretched almost two months. The host Devashish deserves a special mention for the exceptional hospitality offered to all volunteers. AMURT and AMURTEL volunteers resident in Puerto Rico are still in action in coordination with the University. Last word on a personal level – a really fantastic experience in all possible ways. Thanks