Building Resilience in Puerto Rico

After seeing the destruction of Hurricane Maria, Jana Kiser knew she had to help. Here's how she's using mindfulness to support the island's recovery.

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When Hurricane Maria bore down on Puerto Rico in September 2017, destroying the island’s infrastructure and claiming more than 3,000 lives, the world watched in horror. For Jana Kiser, living thousands of miles away in San Francisco, not being able to get news about her loved ones or help her community was excruciating. “I felt so far away and powerless,” she says.

In the aftermath, Kiser, who works in nonprofit aid and collective-impact organization, was moved to act. Reaching out to friends and colleagues, including fellow Puerto Rican Andres Gonzales of the Holistic Life Foundation (HLF), she launched Bajacu’ Boricua (baja-coo boor-ee-qua), a pilot project to offer free training in meditation, mindful movement, and music therapy, with the goal of supporting resiliency as Puerto Ricans “do the big work of recovery.”  

Bajacu’ Boricua offers free training in meditation, mindful movement, and music therapy, with the goal of supporting resiliency as Puerto Ricans “do the big work of recovery.”

In January, she and members of HLF, movement teacher Leslie Booker, and María José Montijo, a California-based Puerto Rican sound therapist and harpist, embarked on a 10-day tour of the island. They were joined by guest mindfulness teachers Sharon…

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