Thirteen out of the 17 Community Resilience Centers developed by Mercy Corps with the sponsorship of Walmart Puerto Rico, met for the first time over the weekend to celebrate achievements, share learnings and continue preparing for the possibility of a future natural disaster while leveraging on their assets to develop their local economy.
The Resilience Hub Mega Meeting took place in Yabucoa and brought together community leaders representing the community-based organizations that partnered with Mercy Corps after Hurricane María to develop these projects in the metro area and the eastern region of Puerto Rico.
“At Mercy Corps we believe in developing innovative and sustainable solutions for our communities, and in connecting people with the tools they need to strengthen their neighborhoods,” said Karla Peña, director of Mercy Corps in Puerto Rico.
“During the past three years, we have seen firsthand the ability of our communities to reunite and prepare their residents, capitalizing on their assets, their local support networks and leverage on our support and that of the private sector,” she said.
“We’re very excited to celebrate their achievements and continue to back their efforts to develop resilience for the future,” Peña added.
With the support of Walmart Puerto Rico, Mercy Corps led the Resilience Centers project with the objective of training the communities throughout the island to effectively assist their residents in the event of a natural disaster.
These centers are intended to meet the immediate needs of communities during emergencies, providing access to drinking water, solar energy and Wi-Fi connection. As of today, more than 65,000 participants have been benefited through the program.
At the event, the organizations were recognized for completing the Resilience Hub program and developed plans and proposals for the future. Some of their ideas include increasing the services that are being offered to the communities and leveraging on the economic development opportunities that they have identified in their local areas.
For example, Guardarrayas Unidos por un Patrimonio Educativo de Patillas (GUPE), is planning to develop a gastronomic route, based on the interest in their restaurants that they have identified from visitors.
The centers have been organized in partnership with community-based organizations of different nature and size and are located from Cataño and San Juan all the way to Vieques and Culebra.
The Resilience Community Centers that are part of this program with Mercy Corps are: Asociación Maunabeña de Pequeños Agricultores, in Maunabo; Asociación de Agricultores de Farináceos del Este; Programa de Educación Comunal de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S. Inc.), in Humacao; Asociación Pro Juventud Barrio Palmas, in Cataño; Comité Desarrollo Social y Cultural Daguao Inc. in Naguabo; Vieques en Rescate; Fé Que Transforma Inc., in Vieques; Asociación ACirc (El Bastión, Circo Fest), in San Juan; Guardarrayas Unidos por un Patrimonio Educativo (GUPE), in Patillas; Consejo Comunitario Biblioteca Electrónica Calzada, in Maunabo; Asociación Educativa Pro-desarrollo Humano de Culebra; Fundación de Culebra; Instituto Nueva Escuela, at the Rafael Delgado School in Guayama and the Guillermo Riefkhol School en Patillas; and thel Centro de Microempresas y Tecnologías Agrícolas Sustentables in Yauco Inc.