This Year, Take a Humanitarian Vacation


Sydney Teh

Chloe Frajmund ’19, as a member of Project FIRE, contributed to Bronx Science’s Pad and Tampon Drive.

Puerto Rico, Mexico, Iran, Bangladesh, and Florida are only a few of the many places that were devastated by unusually frequent natural disasters in 2017. While some have recovered well, other countries still suffer greatly from the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, and floods. The massive destruction has been improved with the help of charities and relief organizations. However, there is still more that can be done to help the people and communities in these areas as well as in New York City, where problems (such as lack of resources like food, water, and hygiene products) are prevalent.

Typically, people who have a vacation from school or work spend it in a warm and sunny location, but unfortunately, many of these places have been devastated by the natural disasters that shocked the world this past year. Puerto Rico, one of the destinations horribly affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria, still has areas without electricity. Millions of the U.S. citizens who reside there have suffered damages to their home, and the locals, in addition to their governments,  have had to cover millions of dollars in damages. People around the world are taking a variety of initiatives to help with disaster recovery. Bronx Science’s own members of Project FIRE (Feminism; Inclusion; Rights; Equality), a feminist organization headed by World Languages teacher Ms. Elise Caldarola and Social Studies teacher Ms. Elizabeth MacEnulty, have succeeded in hosting a feminine hygiene product drive for people in need. Chloe Frajmund ’19, an involved member of Project FIRE and one of their Sexual Assault Board student representatives, is proud of the organization’s accomplishments thus far. “We have made two successful pad and tampon drives, the first one to a homeless shelter in the Bronx and the second, this year for Puerto Rico,” said Frajmund.

“I think that it is very important that we, as a Bronx Science community carry empathy for those in need and those less fortunate than us. We need to look at what is not there, what is not donated – and fill that gap. Feminine hygiene doesn’t stop for natural disasters, and yet people still view pads, tampons and diapers as luxuries. If Project FIRE changes the minds of even a few people on this concept, then we have done our job.”

A productive way of spending a vacation is by participating in volunteer activities hosted by relief groups. One could, for instance, travel to another town to assist in rebuilding the area, delivering supplies to the needy, and improving the available education for children. Many organizations hold trips to foreign places like Costa Rica, Thailand, and Ghana, with allotted time for you to explore the country as a tourist would. Unfortunately, many of the “alternative spring break” opportunities, as they’re often called, are for older students such as those in college or adults with free time, and some cost additional money for travel expenses.  However, there are other forms of help that you can participate in which are very much similar to Project FIRE’s drive. There are multiple donation locations around the five boroughs of New York City where you can donate items like baby food and first aid supplies, as promoted by the mayor on New York City’s official website. Additionally, charities such as the Mexican Red Cross, Direct Relief, and the Salvation Army are constantly looking for more supplies as well as resources to contribute to their cause. Most local churches will also accept supplies for those in need.

“I think that it is very important that we, as a Bronx Science community carry empathy for those in need and those less fortunate than us. We need to look at what is not there, what is not donated – and fill that gap.”

Do not just stop at helping people in places like Puerto Rico, though. New York City is home to many branches of charities and volunteer services for which you can participate. The American Red Cross, for example, offers opportunities to participate in fundraiser projects. Additionally, NYCares is an organization committed to affecting social change by helping those near and below the poverty line. Vacation does not necessarily have to be spent at the beach; make your break productive! The opportunities to help those in need are everywhere.