Photo credit: Tatyana Hopkins/NNPA
Six months ago, Hurricane Maria struck through Puerto Rico and wiped out thousands of homes, leaving residents without power and limited access to clean water. As the island continues to recover, students from Howard University have taken matters into their own hands by helping to restore a sense of normalcy to its citizens.
Participants of the school's 2018 Alternative Spring Break program travelled to Puerto Rico to assist with restoration efforts by visiting a local Boys and Girls Club where they tutored students and helped to lift their spirits in the aftermath of the hurricane. Students also helped to rebuild major buildings and churches that suffered damages from the storm.
"For me, this trip is a way to give back to those who helped my family when we were victims of Hurricane Katrina, " Tatyana Hopkins, NNPA Newswire Special Correspondent, reports Jasmine Stevens saying.
Stevens, who is a junior biology major, fled New Orleans in 2005 with her family to avoid Hurricane Katrina. After escaping the natural disaster that occurred more than 10 years ago, she now feels a sense of responsibility to give back to those who are experiencing a similar situation that she went through.
The church that Stevens and her peers volunteered to rebuild is on the island's northern coast and is home to roughly 96,000. It was once a worship place for about 40 people, but the church has since been shut down due to no power or running water. According to its pastor, Miguel Asegarra, the 12,000-square foot building was submerged in at least eight-feet of water after the storm.
While it will be a long time before Puerto Rico is completely back to normal, the work of Howard University students will certainly help to move recovery efforts forward.
Outside of Puerto Rico, other students from the university spent their spring break helping communities in St. Thomas, Anguilla, St. Maarten, Florida and Texas.