Editor’s Note: Today’s dispatch was written by BFOH team members and iLEAD learners Mateo Bokun & Oliver Munn-Oberg.

Today, we started the day off with a lot of energy, thanks to our amazing wake-up leaders. With healthy breakfasts in our stomachs and a nice hike up the hill, we started our new adventure.

After a long bus drive through beautiful, green winding roads in Puerto Rico’s hillsides, we were ready to work hard. Our amazing bus driver was able to navigate the difficult roads to get us to our destination with the help of friendly locals. Our mission for today was to help out a few schools in need by donating backpacks full of supplies.

With the first glances of “Lares School” we were astonished with the progress that has been made since the last visit to Puerto Rico. The building looked a lot more vibrant with the new colorful textures brought upon the walls. The inhabitants were much more vibrant in both appearance and attitude, as well. Immediately upon entering the building, every room was cleaner and much more organized. What were once abandoned classrooms, were now thriving apartments, complete with solar power and running water.

Our day at the school started off with a tour by Mrs. Edith. Her expressive Puerto Rican personality radiated through every room we walked through. The new projects that they have started on are creating a room for children with computers in order for them to be able to do homework, and a room for women’s counseling. She shared some of the personal stories which were very empowering to our whole group. She also talked about how the hurricane, complicated by the lack of governmental support, caused people to come together as a community and build lasting relationships with each other.

Mrs. Edith had also mentioned to us another school in need. This school focuses on teaching the children of the area the agricultural techniques that will help them build more sustainable lives. And amazingly, the school director is still in high school himself! He works with his students on the weekends, as he attends a boarding school during the week. He is known as the youngest agriculturalist on the island. While we had hoped to meet him, complications had arisen that didn’t allow that. We were however, able to send them some of the farming supplies that will help them grow.

We wrapped up and loaded the bus to begin our trek home. Once again, the good will of the community proved to be invaluable. A quick stop for ice cream provided a much-needed moment of refreshment. As we arrived back at our home, we looked forward to tomorrow, when we will continue our efforts on project Earthship PR.