7 Months after Hurricane Maria, some residents of Luquillo Puerto Rico are still without electricity
22,350 of Puerto Rico's students fled the island with no plans to return
300 Schools are slated to be closed at the end of this school year as a result of the hurricanes and the islands financial crisis
24.5% of high school students in Puerto Rico don't graduate
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Two Devastating hurricanes tore through the island of Puerto Rico last fall. On September 4th, Hurricane Irma damaged the island, and just 2 weeks later on September 20th, Hurricane Maria shut the island down completely.
7 Months later, many residents are still without electricity, which is the second longest running blackout in history.
22,350 Students have fled the island with no plans to return.
The Puerto Rico Department of Education closed 167 schools last year due to the island's financial crisis, and due to the hurricanes, 300 more schools are slated to be closed by the end of this school year.
Puerto Rico has a graduation rate of only 75.5% (compared to Colorado at 91%). Closing schools means many kids will have to travel across the island to attend school, which could decrease their graduation rate even further.
The cost of keeping the remaining schools open means there is a lack of resources for basic school supplies. Some schools haven't purchased new books in 10 years.
The high school Isidro A. Sanchez is located in one of the most poverty stricken areas of Puerto Rico, in a town called Luquillo, located between the Caribbean coastline and the El Yunque Rainforest, which was damaged so heavily that it didn't reopen until just a few weeks ago.
The poverty rate of Luquillo is 43.3% (compared to Boulder County at 10.8%). Their school was lucky to reopen, but almost all of their supplies were lost to flooding, and they have not been able to replace them.
I received a list of needed supplies from the school with the help of a wonderful volunteer coordinator who has been working with me for the last 5 months to navigate the difficult communication pathways due to lack of electricity, internet, and a language barrier.
My goal is to collect enough donations from people in my community that we can completely restock the supplies their library keeps on hand to help students and teachers in need. In addition, I would like to provide at least 5 backpacks full of supplies for individual students who have lost their homes and possessions in the flood, and continue to struggle to rebuild.
I have made arrangements to deliver them in person at the beginning of June so they can start their next school year with the confidence that they have what they need to continue their educations and graduate high school.