Learning Journeys: Caguas Pueblo Mutual Aid Center

Our second Learning Journey at the Caguas Pueblo Mutual Aid Center, self-managed by Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico, was deeply moving. We learned about the history, philosophy and success of the Mutual Aid Network, and were encouraged to align our intentions and help each other through our collective work.

The process started with a dynamic called “mística”, an activity where each volunteer presented an item that represents the connection and the reason why we do the work we do (a photo, amulet, flower, plant, article). This gave a spiritual value and a sense of belonging to everyone present. Connected and in union, Giovanni Roberto began to talk about the history of the Mutual Aid Center , his personal story of how he found his purpose, and the services that have built the Super Solidario, Wellness Center, Affordable Restaurant for the community, among other services of the Caguas CAM.

We shared experiences and perspectives between FiPR members and CAM members. Odette, one of the farmers in the project, shared that the Learning Journey visit recharged her heart and gave her a different perspective on grantmakers and their genuine interest in the community. We all had the experience of learning about our purpose and our contributions to the sector.

Some of our members: Fundación Intellectus, Fundación Colibrí, Fundación Segarra and Filantropía Puerto Rico were divided into two groups, one headed to Huerto Feliz and the other one to the Super Solidario. At Huerto Feliz, an effort from Urbe Apie, we had the opportunity to plant aloe vera and observe the sweet potatoes, tomatoes and other crops. In addition, a big challenge was given to us by Nabori, a farmer from Huerto Feliz, who gave us sweet potato seeds to plant in our homes, a great challenge for those of us who are just starting to planting!

In the Super Solidario, a human chain was made among the members and purchases were packaged to be delivered to the community. To ensure that the purchases reach those who need them most, Comedores Sociales conducts an assessment of those who request the assistance and also guides them on how to use it for their greatest benefit.

We owe a deep gratitude to the Comedores team: Giovanni, Paola, Odette, Alberto, Ian, Stephanie and Vladimir for inviting us into their living work project. Also, to those who came from other towns: Martín from CAMJI Lares, Omar and Víctor from CAMbu Las Marías, and Damaris and Nabori from Urbe Apie Caguas. They are all part of the Puerto Rico Mutual Aid Network.

We finished the journey with acupuncture in the ears, a service offered at the Wellness Center for the community.  The work of the Comedores Sociales team is not only social and of providing assistance to those in need, but they also try to work from the inside out. A process that begins with the introspection and awareness of each one. Receiving the strength and energy from the community is undoubtedly what many of us needed to continue focusing our efforts on our purpose.

The next [Learning Journey] will be part of our Annual Convening, October 19 to 21, 2022. We will visit Naguabo Somos Todos, a Learning to Listen grantee and an amazing model of community organizing for resiliency. Stay tuned for more details!

Keep track of our moves