SAN JUAN – Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will convene the third meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery in San Juan on Tuesday.
The Clinton-hosted meeting will include more than 500 leaders from business, government, and philanthropy to make commitments to support recovery on Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean region.
At the meeting, participants will discuss “the current recovery efforts in the region, progress to date, ongoing challenges, and Commitments to Action” announced at the Action Network’s August meeting in Miami last year.
Commitments to Action are what the foundation deems “specific and measurable projects that address critical issues such as health care, economic development, housing, clean energy, education, disaster preparedness and response, and climate resiliency to assist with immediate needs as well as the long-term recovery in the region.”
On Monday, 30,000 pounds of requested medical supplies were unloaded from a 737 at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, and distributed to home care providers and a health center in Hatillo, Puerto Rico.
The supplies include hospital beds, ambulation devices, general primary medical supplies, exam tables and stretchers. Social service agency Acción Social will distribute the equipment to home care providers that provide services to more than 1,000 older adults throughout 76 towns, and to health centers in Hatillo, Arecibo and Utuado that care for over 16,000 patients a year.
The airlift was organized by the Afya Foundation, which has made previous commitments through the CGI Action Network. The transportation and airlift of supplies were funded by the Greater New York Hospital Association and Jan Soderberg of Pearl Aircraft; Swift Air, which donated the cargo space on the 737 jet; StratAir, which is assisting with the cargo buildup, breakdown, and ground handling; and coordination and support by the Clinton Foundation.
In addition, Soderberg separately transported more than 1,000 pounds of medical equipment through a separate flight Saturday.
While on the island, the Clintons met with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, and told the media that many Americans don’t know that Congress allocated billions of dollars to help with the reconstruction of Puerto Rico, to which they said the island is entitled to, and that they want to spread that message as much as they can.
and visited sites to see the progress partners are making on local communities, such as World Central Kitchen’s, Plough to Plate Cosechas Tierra Viva farm in Las Piedras, a “model farm highlighting the potential for smallholder farmers to increase their outputs through sustainable farming practices and cutting-edge technology.
They also drove to Humacao to observe Foundation for Puerto Rico’s Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative, which trains small businesses on financial management and loans to re-establish livelihoods. In Cieba, they saw Para la Naturaleza’s reforestation and habitat restoration programs, which aim at recovering the ecosystems that were decimated by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“For over a year, the people of the Caribbean have proven their determination and resiliency in the face of incredible challenges building back after the devastating hurricanes of 2017,” Bill Clinton said in a release, adding he looked forward to hosting the first Action Network meeting in San Juan, “to bring leaders from philanthropy, business, and government together to continue to act on our commitment.”
“Today’s airlift is a terrific example of how different groups can come together to make a difference, and I’m looking forward to seeing dozens of new commitments like this come together this week,” said Kevin Thurm, CEO of the Clinton Foundation.
Since its launch in January 2018, the CGI Action Network has resulted in Commitments to Action focusing on such issues as mental health training for health workers in Puerto Rico; restoring school and housing infrastructure in Dominica; improving technology and communications infrastructure in the Caribbean; and distributing critical modules and packs containing basic medical supplies to disaster-prone areas.
To date, members of the CGI community have made 18 commitments that are addressing critical needs in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda.
More than 30 commitments are expected to be announced during Tuesday’s meeting. Some of the previous commitments that have made an impact in the region follow:
- Habitat: Launched by Para la Naturaleza, is a reforestation and habitat restoration program aimed at recovering vital ecosystems of Puerto Rico that were decimated by Hurricane Maria. Since January 2018, the program has planted more than 13,000 trees, created 24 new jobs, and recruited over 4,500 volunteers to support the work.
- Solar Saves Lives: A partnership between Direct Relief, the Hispanic Federation, The Solar Foundation and others. The commitment aims to install solar energy systems in at least 12 primary care clinics in Puerto Rico. To date, nine systems have been installed, leading to an 1,875-metric ton reduction in CO2 emissions.
- Children’s School Clinic Mission to the U.S. Virgin Islands: Partnering with Airlink and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, the American Federation of Teachers deployed 24 school nurses to the U.S. Virgin Islands for one week, screening more than half of the youth population.
- Healing for Health Workers: Americares committed to support health workers, emergency responders and social service providers in Puerto Rico to address mental health challenges in the wake of Maria. As of November, Americares has trained more than 2,000 care providers across Puerto Rico, teaching resiliency and coping skills to manage stress and trauma as well as psychological first aid.
- Restoring School Infrastructure and Housing in Dominica: Digicel committed to repair or rebuild seven schools and 360 homes in Dominica that were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Maria. To date, three schools and more than 100 homes have been rebuilt or repaired.
- Solight Design, Empowering Puerto Rico with Solar Lights: Solight Design, in partnership with the Hispanic Federation, committed to donate and distribute 50,000 SolarPuffs (durable, collapsible solar lanterns) to communities without reliable access to grid power in Puerto Rico. As of October, the partnership has distributed 50,000 SolarPuffs to communities in Ciales, Canovanas, San Juan, and Yabucoa.
- Solarizing Schools in Dominica: Expedia Group, Construction for Change, and the Sextant Foundation committed to install solar systems at six primary schools in Dominica after Maria forced almost all schools to close temporarily. To date, Construction for Change and the Sextant Foundation have completed design and preconstruction phases of the six school solar projects on Dominica in partnership with Expedia Group and Digicel (Dominica) Ltd.
The foundation works on issues with partners from the business, government and nonprofit sectors “to create economic opportunity, improve public health, and inspire civic engagement and service,” according to its releases, which add that the “goal of every effort is to use available resources to get better results faster – at the lowest possible cost.”