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Responding to Crises

September 20th was a heart wrenching day for us. We watched as a storm ripped through the Caribbean, destroying everything in its wake, taking aim at our families and friends in Puerto Rico. While we waited for the worst there, the news of an unanticipated tragedy blindsided us. The earth shook in central Mexico, laying waste to entire areas in the third largest nation in the Americas. It was difficult not to be shocked by the images of teetering skyscrapers in Mexico City and collapsed churches in Puebla.

But if the destruction in Mexico left us shocked, the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria left us at a loss for words. Puerto Rico was decimated by this storm, with hundreds of lives lost, families upended, and entire communities left grasping for the most basic necessities.

In the face of so much heartbreak and loss, we knew our response needed to be both swift and decisive. In the case of Mexico, we immediately seeded a relief fund that raised $500,000 to help those who lost their homes in the earthquake build new residences. Working in concert with the Fundación Azteca America, we have been able to construct 400 homes for families in Central Mexico and Puebla. And we're grateful to report that those homes will be ready for affected families to move into before year's end.

The problems facing Puerto Rico are, sadly, more complicated and have demanded an even deeper, more far-reaching response from us. Our focus has been not only on providing immediate and needed relief to those affected by the storm, but also on a comprehensive and just reconstruction of the island.

Our impact in Puerto Rico has been felt just about everywhere. 75 out of 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico have been served through our efforts. 3.4 million pounds of food, water and provisions have been delivered to families throughout the island. More than 500,000 individuals have been provided with water filtration systems, medical support, meals, solar lamps, mosquito nets and other essential supplies and services.

And thanks to the generous support of 200,000 donors to our UNIDOS Relief Fund, we have invested more than $11.5 million into relief and recovery efforts on the island, funding community-based organizations and other groups that are not only providing relief but actively participating in the reconstruction of the island's infrastructure.

Taken together, these efforts represent the most significant disaster relief operations in our history.

Yet there is much more to do. Natural disasters have a way of exposing the deep inequalities that exist in a society. We saw that after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. But it is also true that these are the moments when we see some of the best of the human spirit. We see values like solidarity and service, compassion and caring. These are the values that guide our work. We look forward to continuing to work with all of you to help Mexico and Puerto Rico recover and heal.