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First grant beneficiary named in Puerto Rico hurricane fundraiser

08 Nov 2017

by FBB

Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) is proud to announce that we have chosen Proyecto Matria as our first beneficiary in the Humanist Disaster Recovery Drive to aid the people of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. More than $25,000 was raised to aid Puerto Rico in hurricane recovery and Poyecto Matria will receive the majority of the funds. Details are still being worked out for the remainder of the funds and that announcement will be made at a later time.

Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, hit Puerto Rico on September 20 with 150 mph winds and rainfall that measured in feet in some areas. The island was already suffering from damage that occurred when Hurricane Irma clipped the island on September 7. Of the 1 million people Irma had left without power on the island, 60,000 were still without electricity when Maria hit two weeks later. As Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the Monday after Maria hit,  “Make no mistake — this is a humanitarian disaster involving 3.4 million US citizens.” Sadly, the US government response to the crisis, which left the island without electricity or access to clean drinking water, was slow and desperately inadequate.

Proyecto Matria is local organization working to help the women of Puerto Rico become self-sufficient in order to overcome situations of violence and gender discrimination. Founded in 2004, they empower women with services as far reaching as housing services, which is vital in the wake of the destruction, but also with education, psychological support, and job assistance in the form of small business incubators and microcredit services.

These are important considerations for FBB. First, locally run organizations are always best suited to handle recovery, especially in the long-term. Second, during the recovery process, research suggests women will likely face unique and more severe needs. This issue has been researched in a number of countries around the world following all manners of disasters and generated similar results. Women face three areas of increased need that are interrelated; women's health, an increase in gender-based violence, and economic strain.

Proyecto Matria addressed many of these issues directly. In the wake of the hurricane destruction, they are setting up centers called "Casa Solidaria Matria" (which translates to Matria Solidary House/Home.) These centers will serve as models to be recreated in other communities and will serve multiple purposes including making hot meals available to families in need, serving as classroom space for children whose schools remain closed, space for business incubators using Proyecto Matria’s current model, psycho-social services to aid in the prevention of and to intervene in intra family violence cases, as well as help assisting with the evaluation of homes to coordinate reconstruction.

We are so grateful to our generous donors and are thrilled to partner with Proyecto Matria. We look forward to bringing you updates on their work in 2018. Together we are humanism at work.

Featured image by Frode Myklebust from Unsplash

Hurricane Maria, Poyecto Matria, Puerto Rico

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