Since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico in September 2017, causing one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the island, UNICEF USA has been strongly committed to the needs and welfare of the most vulnerable children and their families.
Joining donors from around the world, the Chris Mikesell Foundation provided a $5,000 grant in November, helping UNICEF mobilize resources and leverage its global partnerships to put children first in Puerto Rico.
UNICEF Family Dignity and Hygiene Kits
Shortly after Hurricane Maria, UNICEF USA was able to provide 12,000 Family Dignity and Hygiene Kits to approximately 60,000 children and families. Each kit contained essential items such as water containers, buckets, soap, detergent, toothpaste, water purification tablets and sanitary pads. The kits were critical in helping children and families stay clean and healthy, protecting them from diseases that can occur when disruption of safe water supply and loss of infrastructure occur.
Clean Water and Essential Supplies
Donor support has been instrumental in helping transport and distribute more than 4,000 pallets of other essential supplies such as water, non-perishable food, diapers, toiletries, feminine hygiene products and solar flashlights. In collaboration with long-time corporate partner UPS, UNICEF USA has been working with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort as well as local non-profit organizations in Puerto Rico to support the distribution of these supplies to children and families in all 78 municipalities across the island.
Since October 2017, UNICEF USA representatives have made three trips to Puerto Rico to assess ongoing needs and work with partners on the ground to ensure that supplies are getting to those that need it most.
Addressing Ongoing Healthcare Needs with Partners
In partnership with Jennifer Lopez, UNICEF USA has also awarded the Hispanic Federation funding in the amount of $1 million for a Disaster Recovery Program for facility repairs and reinforcements, restoration, improving connectivity and replacement of damaged equipment of Puerto Rico Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). The island’s 20 FQHCs care for an estimated 350,000 individuals, more than one in 10 residents of Puerto Rico at more than 90 health center sites, and provided 1.53 million visits in 2016.
UNICEF USA wants to ensure vulnerable children who were impacted by Hurricane Maria are protected and can return to some sense of normalcy as soon as possible. Programmatic proposals are under consideration as the second phase of the response is being determined. One promising program under consideration involved a national community center that serves about 1,700 kids per day.