The community of the Arenas neighborhood, in Guánica, has a project that hopes to receive the approval of the Government, to convert an abandoned structure into a resilient multipurpose center, which serves, among other things, as a refuge, electronic library, medical dispensary for first aid and meeting center.
This is the María del Rosario Cruz Claudio school.
"The only thing we need is the good will of the Government, and that they give us the school" , commented Sofía Ramos, community leader who works with the organization Unidos por la Comunidad de Arenas.
He explained that "we have designed a resilient center", to face natural events, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, whose scourges have had to suffer there recently.
He added that the matter becomes more important if it is taken into account that the community of Arenas is isolated in the event of floods.
"For these natural events, in our community There would be no way out. We have a bridge that gives access to Guánica, and on one occasion it collapsed. If we go through Yauco, there is the Río Loco, which overflows and we can get out. And if we go through Magueyes, to get out on the PR-2 highway, near the entrance to the La Joya neighborhood and the Las Monjas Convent, that will also flood. And the other exit, through the Palomas neighborhood, that there is another bridge, is also flooded and there is no crossing, "Ramos explained.
" So we were held incommunicado until the waters drop. And we cannot wait for aid to arrive, because there are many affected neighborhoods that must also be attended to, "he added.
"Therefore, we want to resolve ourselves until the authorities can arrive, and the school gives us the right place to do that."
As detailed, the project includes a shelter, the provision of the dining room for offer food, a room to store non-perishable food, the installation of solar panels to have energy independence, the installation of a well or tank system, a first aid medical dispensary, the electronic library and a meeting center for elderly people with young people "so they can give talks, talk, watch a movie."
"And best of all, we don't want the government to give us money," said the community leader.
“We already have $ 75,000 that we have received through the Community Foundation of Puerto Rico, Vamos Puerto Rico and Nuestra Escuela. Those organizations have provided us with sanitary materials, food boxes and these funds. "he said.
Ramos explained that between 45% to 50% of the people in the community are over 50 years old, and many have experienced abuses when filling out documents electronically.
“Today everything is electronic, and we have heard of people who charge an elderly person up to $ 100 for doing some paperwork online, and that is abusive. That is why we want to have this electronic library, so that all people can do their paperwork there. And also so that young people can use it for their school activities, because many do not have access to the internet, "he explained.
" And all that is what people asked for. Because we are well organized. And all this that I have said is not a matter for the board (of your organization), all of this comes from our communities. This is what people said in consultations that we did, ”he said. “And what is most repeated is that of the shelter and the electronic library.”
The campus was closed in 2014, as it was alleged then because there was little student enrollment and “because, supposedly, it was not useful”. And "paradoxically, together with the María L. McDougall school, it is the only two in the Department of Education that remained standing" in that area after the earthquakes, because the Agripina Seda completely collapsed and the Áurea Quiles was also severely affected and it is anticipated that they will have to demolish it. Before, after Hurricane Maria, there were people who used the María del Rosario Cruz Claudio to keep horses.
Ramos also stated that the mayor of Guánica, Santos “Papichy” Seda, knows about the project and has given him his full support.
"The mayor knows the project, he agrees, he supports us, and he gave us the letter of endorsement and everything," he assured.
According to Ramos, United by the Community of Arenas requested the school "in compliance with all requirements. ”
“ And from there (the Committee for the Evaluation and Disposition of Real Estate) they write to us, they tell us that they confirm the receipt of the petition and that they would verify with the Municipality of Guánica, which was recently granted a lease , subject to certification from the Department of Education, which has reserved the right to use schools in the municipalities affected by the earthquakes, "he explained. "But the mayor said that it must have been a misinterpretation, because he endorsed the project and wants (the school) to be for the community of Arenas."
"We have 411 family homes here, about 1,250 people living in the community, and we are super organized and we get more motivated every day. We want to be a model for other Guánica and Puerto Rico communities, ”he insisted. "So all we need is for the government to transfer the school to us."