A Voice in Defense of Puerto Rican Children

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“I was born, grew up and lived in a shelter for violence survivors. Living in the shelter with my mother, who is a survivor of gender violence, I realized how appropriate it was for me to get involved so other children could have a new opportunity in their lives, like I did.”

That is the story of Marcos Santana Andújar, director of the Red de Albergues, Instituciones y Centros para Menores de Puerto Rico (RAICEM by its Spanish acronym). In 2005 Marcos went back to a shelter, but this time as a volunteer and later as a director. There he felt the need, at an island-wide level, to speak out with a stronger voice in support of the rights of children, specifically those who must endure situations where violence is present. Out of this particular concern, RAICEM was born in 2013.

RAICEM provides services to 104 shelters, centers and institutions in 32 municipalities. In addition to making children’s voices heard, the organization makes sure that funds allocated to shelters are used properly. They also train the centers’ professionals, so they can provide an excellent service.

After Hurricane Maria and as part of the Embracing Puerto Rico campaign, RAICEM established an alliance with us (Fundación Banco Popular) and with Fundación Música y País to offer music therapy sessions to some 400 children in shelters. The goal of these therapies’ included helping kids reduce post-traumatic stress after the hurricane. In addition, they allowed children to identify and channel their emotions through music, reduce anxiety levels and verbalize their feelings so they could deal with them.

At Fundación Banco Popular we are proud to work together with RAICEM on behalf of the island’s children.