(JTA) — A delegation of Israeli young adults has arrived in Puerto Rico for three months of volunteer work with local youth in summer camps and in rebuilding a community center.
The volunteers are part of a joint effort by The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Project TEN, an international development program that operates volunteer centers in developing areas throughout the world and the local not-for-profit PR4PR. PR4PR will provide local expertise, including identifying where Jewish Agency resources will be deployed on the island focusing on informal education and empowerment, and public health.
It is the first Israeli delegation to arrive in Puerto Rico as part of the program. The group is made up of women ages 20-24 who have completed their army service or national service.
The Israeli women in their first project this week worked together with 17 students from Cornell University and 27 high school students from Bergen County, New Jersey and Boston, Massachusetts, and 30 local children to renovate a community center in Loiza that was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The community center is used daily by local children, providing programs and services designed to engage and keep them away from local gang violence.
PR4PR was founded in 2004 by an Orthodox Jewish New Jersey philanthropist to help break the cycle of poverty, crime and dependency in Puerto Rico and empower children who come from low-income and high-risk communities on the island. It provides afterschool programs and summer camps for thousands of children to keep them off the streets and out of danger.