Puerto Ricans are inventors — and not just of arresting music and mouthwatering dishes. Boricuas have developed technology that makes space travel more efficient for NASA astronauts, helps physicians operate on the tiniest parts of the human body and enables people around the world to filter water. So it’s no surprise that islanders are getting creative in the midst of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
After Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean island, wiping out electricity and potable water, everyday puertorriqueños tapped into their inner innovator, developing machinery to help them persevere without the most basic necessities. Here, just five ways the people of Puerto Rico are using their hands and minds to create tools for survival and leisure.
1. Collecting Water
Hay que inventársela para poder tener agua. 💪
Posted by Puerto Rico Tiene Cojone on Monday, October 2, 2017
Video Credit: Puerto Rico Tiene Cojone
Throughout the island, everyday people are using pipes to funnel water from natural springs into towns, where community members gather with buckets and empty soda bottles to collect water they’ll use to bathe, clean and cook.
2. Filtering Water
Video Credit: Kat Lazo / PR on The Map
In Río Piedras, Jornada: Se Acabron las Promesas, an organization providing free breakfast for the community, connects a portable filter to a bucket, providing clean water for the people to drink or make coffee with.
Photo Credit: Raquel Reichard / PR on The Map
In Vega Baja, Tito Kayak, an activist and founder of the Puerto Rican environmental group Amig@s Del Mar, hangs a bucket above his bathtub and connects it to a shower head. When he places water in the bucket and turns the knob, he and his family are able to take showers even without running water.
4. Washing Clothes
Mi esposo y la nueva maquina de lavar ropa
Posted by Jenny Mejias on Sunday, October 22, 2017
Video Credit: Jenny Mejias
Across Puerto Rico, people are coming up with innovative ways to wash clothes. Here, a man uses a barrel to construct a manual washing machine. In other towns, folks have made similar designs with buckets and hand ringers.
5. Enjoying Movie Nights
Photo Credit: Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi / Defend PR
While adults and elders are concerned about basic necessities to survive, children, who don’t have as much of a grasp of the humanitarian, climate and debt crises, are looking for entertainment. Without electricity or Internet access, video games and TV are not options. But a group of people are providing a traveling Cine Solar, an outdoor movie night for kids powered entirely by solar panels. The free event, made possible by local activists Edgardo Larregui and Coco de Oro and stateside Puerto Ricans like FistUpTv, Defend Puerto Rico and Bay Area Boricuas, even comes with popcorn. Cine Solar has so far gone to Santurce, Yabucoa, Lloren and Palomas.
Reporting for this article was made possible through PR on The Map, a Latinx independent media team put together by grassroots organizer and former Green Party Vice Presidential candidate Rosa Clemente to produce unfiltered, unapologetic and intergenerational coverage on Puerto Rico. Donate to PR on The Map here.