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Inspiring Campaign Aims to Rebuild Puerto Rico Sustainably

As millions of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico continue to recover more than two months after Hurricane Maria hit, a new campaign aims completely rebuild the island in a sustainable manner.

Operation Taino Spirit Promise is a joint effort between Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, actress and activist Michelle Rodriguez and the non-profit group Taino Warriors.


According to a campaign press release provided to EcoWatch, organizers will team up with Puerto Rican NGOs to help deliver life-saving supplies to residents. A vessel will also retrieve plastics and raw materials off the island to alleviate Puerto Rico's overflowing landfills.

"Our mission is to help Puerto Rico help itself by partnering with local boots on the ground who are focusing on issues such as the environment, ecological farming, education, mental health," said Rodriguez in the short feature above.

As highlighted in the video, Puerto Rican non-profits have been intrinsic in providing relief to residents across the island. Such groups include Visit Rico, an organization dedicated to strengthening Puerto Rico's agricultural economy through sustainable agri-tourism.

Maria had wiped away around 80 percent of Puerto Rico's agricultural industry, explained Camille Callazo of Visit Rico in the clip. "That's why we created a fund for ecological farmers to keep motivated, feel hope," she says.

Another featured organization is Unidos Por Utuado, which provides water filters, portable solar panels with batteries and LED lights.

"[We are] empowering people but doing it in a way that is renewable" said C.P. Smith of Unidos Por Utuado.

The Category 4 hurricane was so devastating that parts of the island are still in the dark after the Sept. 20 storm struck. As of Monday, the island has reached 68 percent electric capacity

Portable solar panelsOperation Taino Spirit Promise

Public health officials have warned of a mental health crisis on the island, with many residents showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Mayra Santos-Febres of Festival de la Palabra also noted in the video how her group provides books, creates workshops and uses art "to get people out of their post-traumatic disorders so they can move [on] and get what they need."

"We are in this for the long haul, looking at the long game, seeing what kind of opportunities there are to rebuild the way Puerto Rico functions," Rodriguez said. The cause is near-and-dear to the Fast and the Furious star, who has a Puerto Rican father and resided on the island during her youth.

"In this era of climate change, Sea Shepherd stands ready to assist the good and resilient people of Puerto Rico in their recovery from these destructive events," said Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd founder, president and CEO.

“The indelible Taino spirit that lives in every Puerto Rican on the island and in the diaspora commands us to come together to help rebuild Puerto Rico" said Puerto Rican-born Ivette Rodriguez, the founder of Hollywood-based Taino Warriors. “We want to empower the younger generations and remind them of the greatness of their origins. We are thrilled that Michelle Rodriguez (no relation) and Captain Paul Watson are joining us on this mission."