Backpacks Full of Hope
Please note: Our Puerto Rico 2020 trip has been postponed due to serious risk factors. The people of Puerto Rico remain near and dear to our hearts, and while we are disappointed to postpone this year’s relief trip, we remain energized to return in the spring of 2021 and determined to provide support throughout 2020. Using the donations we’ve raised for our 2020 BFOH trip, we will send emergency supplies to our friends in Puerto Rico.
Two years ago, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, decimating the U.S. territory. As the island continues to rebuild, iLEAD learners are preparing for their third humanitarian aid trip to the island.
Out of the hearts of a group of iLEAD learners and families, the Backpacks Full of Hope service learning trip was born in December 2017. Moved by their compassion for those suffering in Puerto Rico, 19 Backpackers from SCVi, iLEAD’s founding school, and from other iLEAD sites, embarked on a journey that began with months of researching, reaching out, and fundraising. All of their strategic planning culminated in working on the island over their spring break to rebuild, reforest, and restore some of what was lost. Together, they helped build sustainable housing units called Earthships, planted over 400 trees, and donated backpacks and duffel bags full of much-needed supplies to local residents.
That first mission was more successful than the team could have imagined. Based on the tremendous need that the group saw, they felt compelled to return. In response, the group, which had now grown to 30 Backpackers, traveled back to Puerto Rico for a second aid trip in April 2019. This time, they focused on the maintenance and care of the trees planted the previous year, continued their work with the Earthships, and also brought supplies to support a rural agricultural school that educates local children.
The program is coordinated by Cultural Bridges Global, the international learning division of iLEAD Schools, which organizes these important service learning trips and other global initiatives for students.
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