Serving the Underserved in Puerto Rico
A look into Islamic Relief’s Inspire program in Puerto Rico.
by: Nabeeha Shah
In Puerto Rico, over 43% of the population lives in poverty, most of which are children. The island has endured multiple disasters, the most recent being Covid-19 and Hurricane Maria, the most destructive disaster to hit the island in nearly a century. These hardships have deeply affected the country’s economy, infrastructure, and health systems, leaving communities vulnerable to poverty.
Puerto Rico has demonstrated remarkable resilience, and efforts by nonprofit organizations such as Islamic Relief help to raise awareness and support those in need across the country. The most recent Islamic Relief Inspire in Puerto Rico supported development projects across multiple interventions including food, education, and water.
Volunteers worked tirelessly through the summer heat to pack over 1,000 food boxes for families in the community. Each box consisted of staples in the diet such as rice, beans, and vegetables.
“This is why I’m here [with Islamic Relief]. It’s a good feeling to know I’m making an impact,” one volunteer shared.
Day of Dignity
Day of Dignity, a day of service, is an opportunity for Islamic Relief volunteers to provide essential services to communities in need through interventions such as serving hot nutritious meals, providing essential hygiene kits, and offering haircuts to those unable to afford them.
Dia de la Dignidad, as the locals referred to it, took place in a small community in San Juan called La Perla. La Perla is one of the most historic neighborhoods in the city, and is home to a close-knit, underserved community struggling with gentrification. Volunteers served meals sponsored by a local chef, packed over 50 hygiene kits, and offered support to the barbers where necessary.
In a community over an hour away from San Juan, we worked with a local community leader, Tito, to pack food boxes and rehabilitate one of the schools in the neighborhood before the children’s first day.
Together, with members of the community itself, volunteers packed over 1,000 food boxes and built both a playground and small garden for the school. Due to the level of excitement from the volunteers, reports on the children’s reactions were requested from Tito.
For the final volunteer experience, volunteers came together to pack and distribute over 2,000 school kits for the children in the community. One station consisted of packing essential school supplies in each backpack, while the other station allowed volunteers to interact with the community members while distributing the kits.
“The best among you are those who bring greatest benefits to many others.” Prophet Muhammad (SAW)