At the beginning of July, we had some local teens ask for our help to drive a service project they wanted to do with their family. You can read our previous post here: Local Teens Hoping to Make a Difference
We asked them to share their experience with us, and they delivered. See their story below:
Drop Project: School Supplies for Puerto Rico
Many schools in Puerto Rico have been closed down due to budget cuts, declining enrollment, and worsening economic conditions. In fact, over 150 schools have closed in the last five years, and the government may have to close 600 more of the 1,460 public schools over the next five years. That’s almost half of the remaining schools! Even the few schools that are still open don’t have enough funding to buy school supplies and provide quality education to their students. This situation is only getting worse.
There are people and organizations who are making an effort to help this problem on the island. For example, the Boston Consulting Group signed a multimillion-dollar deal with the government to help restructure the island's education system. However, we felt like there was something we could do to help out as well. We could help in a way that wouldn’t change the world, but would make a difference in a few people’s life.
We contacted a school in Puerto Rico called Hogar Escuela Sor Maria Rafaela. It is an all-girls school run by Catholic nuns for girls ages 12-18. It does not have a lot of students, so we wanted to do something that would help out each one of them.
This school was in need of basic school supplies, so with the help of funding from Brainstorm, we bought tote bags, binders, notebooks, paper, index cards, sticky notes, rulers, pens, pencils, and highlighters. Then our service club, Drop, consisting of ten youth volunteers, assembled 24 bags filled with school supplies for the girls at the school. We boxed up the tote bags, and my family brought them with us to Puerto Rico.
When we got to Hogar Escuela Sor Maria Rafaela, we were greeted by a smiling nun who worked there. She showed us where she wanted the supplies, and we put them there. It was very eye-opening to see how gracious and humble everyone there was. Then she went to go get someone who spoke better English who could show us around. She came back with another smiling lady who told us her name was Rosa. We immediately recognized her name because she was the one who we had been working with and talking to on the phone before we came.
After dropping off the school supplies, Rosa gave us a tour of the whole school. The girls who attend this school are very underprivileged and have bad family situations. These girls have been taken away from their homes because of how bad their family conditions are, and they live at the school. The girls live there for the entire school year and attend classes in the same building that they live in. Then during the summer, they live in foster care.
Rosa showed us the girls’ bedrooms, their shared living room, their eating place, the classrooms, and the backyard where they get to play in their free time. In the backyard, they also had a separate building that was used as their entertainment center. It had an indoor basketball/volleyball court, a stage, and lots of space to run around and play with each other.
We are so grateful for BrainStorm for making this service opportunity possible to help out Hogar Escuela Sor Maria Rafaela and get to know some of the hard working people there. The nuns we met with were so gracious and thankful for the school supplies that we donated to their students. They made us feel very good about what we did for them, and we are happy that we were able to add our drop of service to this school in Puerto Rico.
Learn more about the Drop Foundation here.