‘Their Minds Were Full Of Maria’: After-College Group Brings Normal Back : NPR

‘Their Minds Were Full Of Maria’: After-College Group Brings Normal Back

Enlarge this graphic toggle caption Ryan Caron King/WNPR Ryan Caron King/WNPR

The Puerto Rican effort to advance from response to recovery after Hurricane Maria continues. For a few, water and electricity are still elusive. And that makes it hard to make contact with normal – specifically for children.

An after-school software is designed to pick up when school lets away. The program – without any formal brand – is organized by volunteers and the nonprofit Save the Children. In a territory nonetheless lacking basic utilities in some places, Facebook gain access to and YouTube videos are a lower priority. But youngsters need something to accomplish.

School started again in mid-November in the mountain town of Orocovis – two months after Maria passed. Nonetheless the school building doesn’t have electricity, so the day ends at 12:30 p.m.

But one day last week, 51 children stayed behind for even more. Before divorce for activities, they started out with tunes that got them moving – practicing their lefts and privileges, and smiling. Parents say the after-school opportunity is a secure place to allow them to send their children. It offers adults time to function and also to try and handle the daily pressure of living without simple services. That stress impacts the kids, too.

Wanda Medina, a science teacher in Orocovis, said she made a decision to utilize the situation as a good teachable moment in her classroom. She posed a issue to her students: “Character has been afflicted, and human beings have already been afflicted. Which [will] replenish quicker?”

Every one of them said mother nature. The children spoke from their own observations. They told her that trees have already grown new leaves. Their own families and friends, on the other hand, lost things they can not reunite, like valuables their parents gave them. Three of Medina’s pupils dropped their entire home.

Mother or father and volunteer Giovanni Caballero Fuentes was luckier. His family didn’t lose their house, but his kids viewed the storm rip off their neighbor’s roof. He said he’s wishing they soon forget the sound of the wind and rainfall, and learn to handle life without electricity, without normal water, and without technology.

“Back to simple,” Caballero Fuentes said.

He and his youngsters plays board games at home, and they search for other ways to distract themselves. Even now, his 10-year-old girl Nadjah said she is happy to maintain the after-school program.

“Because it is very fun,” she said.

Enlarge this graphic toggle caption Ryan Caron King/WNPR Ryan Caron King/WNPR

Luis Santiago’s grandson, Janiel, participates in the program. Santiago said his grandson often stays with him because his girl works two jobs. He’s a retired elementary school teacher, and he is aware of how important routine is for youngsters.

“It’s a little bit difficult, you understand, [to] have normality,” Santiago said. “We don’t go to the movies, we don’t go to the locations where before we can move. But before was wonderful. But now it’s very difficult.”

Eugenio Soto Santiago teaches during the day and prospects some of the after-school actions. He said many of his students thought that their island would never become the same after Hurricane Maria. However, little bits of regular existence are returning into view.

“Even though we don’t have electricity, and sometimes we don’t have normal water, they’re turning back to that … this is our new normal,” Soto Santiago said. “And they’re able to handle it.”

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