FAIRFIELD, Conn. (January 4, 2018)— At the turn of the New Year, hope and inspiration were in abundance for a rural, mountainous community in Puerto Rico that was heavily impacted by Hurricane Maria. Global humanitarian organization Save the Children spent the final days of 2017 working together with residents and local leaders in Barrio Fronton in Ciales Municipality who are transforming and rebuilding their devastated community. The centerpiece of this revitalization project is a mural designed in partnership with renowned artist Okuda San Miguel and painted by children and members of the community.
"Ciales was devastated by Hurricane Maria; power is still out across much of the municipality and most schools are only operating half days. Save the Children is committed to working with community members in Barrio Fronton over the coming year, helping them to build back better and stronger than ever," said Casey Harrity, Save the Children’s team leader in Puerto Rico. "It is a long road ahead, but this project was the perfect way to bring everyone together to mark the New Year and celebrate the beginning of our partnership with this resilient community."
This project, completed in late December, was a collaboration between Save the Children and Apartial, an online community of artists that has previously partnered with non-government organizations and internationally renowned artists on public art projects to transform landscapes in some of the world’s most vulnerable places such as Uganda’s Bidibidi, the world’s largest refugee camp. With the help of Apartial, Okuda, an artist known for his multi-colored, geometric, large-scale murals in the U.S. and around the world, donated his vibrant design to the community in Ciales. Apartial outlined the design on the floor of the basketball court, and community members of all ages painted in the design.
"Apartial is a group of creators who want to inspire the wider world by sharing art and design," said Mark Leonard, co-founder of Apartial. "We came to Puerto Rico to support the community’s efforts to rebuild after the devastating hurricane. This project is a perfect example of how powerful paint can be to bring people together and inspire hope for the future. We’ve worked with some of the world’s leading artists to support communities in Uganda, Liberia and elsewhere."
In addition to the gymnasium revitalization, Save the Children distributed books and emergency supplies to local children. The organization also cleaned an outdoor basketball court in the nearby Villalobos community. After Save the Children washed and mowed the site, the municipality repainted the court so local children could begin to play there once again. In the coming year, Save the Children will continue to work side by side with community leaders, children and their families to ensure that the recovery process continues. Full child-resilience plans for the community include supporting after school programs; leading trainings on mental and emotional well-being and ensuring summer programs for children to continue their learning.
The global humanitarian organization is helping children and families impacted by Hurricane Maria by restoring access to critical childcare and education services, and helping children overwhelmed by the emergencies to rebound and become more resilient. More information on Save the Children’s hurricane recovery programs is available at savethechildren.org.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.