In celebration of the Caribbean Initiative, Global Ministries is lifting up the work of AMANESER 2025 in Puerto Rico as one of the two special giving focuses for Alternative Christmas 2018. Continue reading about Global Ministries Alternative Christmas here.
The Alliance for Sustainable Resources Management (AMANESER 2025) is an ecumenical network of grassroots organizations whose purpose is to promote sustainability in Puerto Rico so that the island can design its development as “prosperous, fair, democratic, sustainable and happy.”
To this end, AMANESER 2025 is beginning to equip local communities with the organizational and material resources to improve their resiliency in the midst of natural disasters and to reduce the community’s dependency on outside assistance in responding to these disasters. Material resources provided to the community include:
- solar energy panels
- community refrigeration system
- rainwater harvesting system, which can hold 2,000-4,000 gallons
- individual water filters that can filter up to 30,000 gallons
- battery operated communication devices
Each community will develop their own strategic plan for becoming a more sustainable community in the face of climate change. In walking with the community, AMANASER 2025 will provide technical and organizational training. Through this process, each community will come together to write a vision statement, identify priority areas, and develop strategies and activities to work toward their vision for the future.
Over the past year, 19 workshops and 50 educational meeting have been offered by AMANESER 2025, training over 200 community leaders, cooperative members, trade unionists, religious leaders, academics, and professionals in climate change and energy democracy. Since Hurricane Maria struck in 2017, the majority of the population of Puerto Rico has learned that public services do not work for them, and that the privatization of the Electric Power Authority is harmful to their communities in the face of climate change and natural disasters. With growing individualism and privatization, and the impact of climate change beginning to strike home, some have begun to be receptive towards solutions that will create sustainable and resilient communities capable of dealing with larger hurricanes and storms. The connections between climate change and Christian spirituality are at the core of AMANESER 2025's work, and in the coming years they will be facilitating conversations addressing climate change as a social, moral, and religious issue.
The work of AMANESER 2025 can be felt in Veguita Zama—a rural community, in the remote and isolated village of Jayuya. There is limited access to services and opportunities—a situation that worsens after large storms cut access to power and drinking water. After Hurricane Maria, the community of Veguita Zama was forgotten by almost everyone, further complicating the situation. The community was without power from the Electric Power Authority for nine months, and during that time the community center that AMANESER 2025 helped establish continued to distribute materials, provisions, and aid to the local residents in large part due to the solar panel systems and training they provided. Two of the three systems with which the center operated were developed through AMANESER 2025. The first began operating early in 2018 and the installation was used as part of the workshops being offered to community leaders on sustainable resilience. Along with solar panels, water filters and replacement cartridges were distributed that will allow the community to filter more than 7,000 gallons of water and a small office refrigerator that was installed to preserve medicines for the local residents. The community of Veguita Zama is not waiting for someone to come and solve their problems, they are doing it themselves with assistance and training from AMANESER 2025.
Despite this progress, there is a strong resistance to change in the region. One year after Maria, people have begun to return to their lives before the storm. Many of the participants of the workshops want to build large solar panel systems in order to continue living as before María—lifestyles that consumed unsustainable amounts of power. However, through education and training, local residents are beginning to desire to change their lifestyles.
As AMANESER 2025 prepares for 2019, they are seeking to expand their message through Puerto Rico. In the past year AMANESER 2025 has been making the most with limited resources, but thanks to the contributions received by special gifts, including Global Ministries support, AMANESER 2025 has been encouraging hope and empowerment in the communities where they have worked.