Proyecto Matria, Miraflores

The hallways of the CREARTE center in San Juan fill with the sounds of teenagers chatting, teachers calling their classrooms to order, and children running energetically from one class to another. Some parts of the building are well lit thanks to a generator, while others remain dark, but aside from that everything goes on as if it were just another typical school day.

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Hurricane Maria hit land at Barrio Punta Santiago in the town of Humacao with winds reaching at least 185 miles an hour. The combination of rain and wind created a sea surge that flooded this community built by fishermen. Since 1985, this area is the home of Programa de Educación Comunitario de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S.) which signals a community education program that emphasizes dedication and service. PECES is also the Spanish word for “fish,” a name that evokes the community’s origins. When José Javier Oquendo, PECES´ president, walked through the neighborhood after Hurricane Maria, he was overtaken with grief as neighbors in tears told him how the water flooded their modest homes taking all they owned. He later recounted, “These scenarios are only lived in horror movies. I didn´t know what to tell them.” But together, the community quickly realized “that what we need is our willpower”. PECES lost all of its facilities except for their main building, which houses its headquarters.

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In the aftermath of hurricane Maria, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) has published dozens of high-impact stories. " We were the first to report from the mountainous region, which motivated the commercial media to move outside the metro area,” said Carla Minet, Executive Director of the CPI. “Our team has been reporting with great commitment, a deep sense of urgency and critical vision. We have visited communities in many affected towns such as Utuado, Salinas, Cidra, Cayey, Ponce, Ciales, Caguas, Santurce, Aguadilla, Mayagüez, Dorado, Toa Baja and Maunabo, among others.”

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