Spring break in Puerto Rico? After María, that means ‘rebuild,’ not ‘relax’

From Boy Scouts to Harvard Law, many students from the US mainland are spending vacation time volunteering here: helping to clear debris, navigate FEMA forms, and restore damaged forests.

News Story (Puerto Rico)

Whitney Eulich
Christian Science Monitor
March 23, 2018

Tags: Disaster Recovery

Organizations mentioned/involved: Fundación Fondo de Acceso a la Justicia, Harvard Law School


These college students aren’t alone in eschewing traditional spring break activities like sunbathing and partying to help Puerto Rico recover. From the more than 100 Boy Scouts from across the mainland US helping to rebuild a scout camp in Guajataka to 31 Harvard law students providing pro-bono legal aid and humanitarian work, spring break in Puerto Rico this year is a far cry from lazing on the beach.

In “school, you tend to forget what real life is about,” says Kevin Ratana Patumwat, a second-year Harvard Law student. He’s come to better understand the disaster, which, as of March 9, still had left nearly 150,000 homes in the dark. “I’ve met people who can’t gather the proper documents [for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA] because the roof of their house is caved in from María,” he says.