How Yoga Teachers Can Help Puerto Rico
It's been two weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island of Puerto Rico and four weeks since Hurricane Irma, and yet 95% of residents are still without electricity and many lack access to clean water. On an island with a population of 3.4 million people, a disaster of this scale is almost unfathomable. While we are just beginning to see some early signs of progress, there is still a need for help.
Yoga teachers - and any other sport, fitness, or wellness teachers, for that matter - can play a pivotal role in rallying their communities for support and action in times of need. By hosting benefit classes, local teachers and studios can step up and become leaders to raise life-saving funds that will directly support local relief efforts. By gathering your tribe together for a purpose, donations will increase exponentially.
Choosing which organization to support can be a difficult decision, so we've compiled a short list of nonprofits, each with a distinct mission.
It's important to note that the best way to help in a humanitarian crisis is with cash. You might feel compelled to donate food, clothing, supplies, or other material goods, but in reality it's more efficient to donate to aid organizations on the ground that can then use those donations to provide the materials that victims request. The key point here is listening to the communities in need and letting them lead, providing support and resources as necessary.
Here are some reputable, trustworthy, and impactful organizations to consider:
Oxfam America: Oxfam is an organization that fights hunger, poverty, and social injustice world wide. They primarily provide humanitarian relief in impoverished countries where local governments lack sufficient response resources, so the fact that they are intervening in Puerto Rico is a major signal that the current US government-led efforts aren't cutting it. (Oxfam got involved in a US emergency response was with Hurricane Katrina in 2005.) You can donate to Oxfam's Hurricane Maria relief efforts here.
United for Puerto Rico: Started by First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, Unidos por Puerto Rico is providing aid to all hurricane victims. This seems to be the primary Puerto Rican fund for this disaster.
UNICEF: UNICEF is focused on helping children and families in the hardest hit regions with lifesaving resources.
International Medical Corps: The International Medical Corps provides immediate health care services that focus on training, helping communities return to self-reliance.
World Central Kitchen: This is a relief effort led by Chef Jose Andres to provide food to thousands of Puerto Ricans. The chef is also a big supporter of Oxfam America.
ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is providing life-saving efforts for animals in disaster and cruelty situations.
Are you donating or raising funds for hurricane relief? If you're in the Boston area this weekend, check out these four healthy ways to contribute to hurricane relief (Boston Magazine).