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Sunday, 30 September 2018 17:14

Guatemala - Volcano Update

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Second Report from the Volcano Appeal Committee

September 2018

Three months after the eruption of the Volcán de Fuego (Fire Volcano), survivors of the catastrophe have taught us to open our hearts to Joy, since in spite of the sadness and uncertainty that they live every day. 

¡Their life is full of hope!

When they receive help from the donations that were sent by the Maryknoll family, friends, U.S. friends.

These are the words expressed by them: God Bless you always, thank   you very much!  I appreciate what you have done for my family!

Below we explain how your donations have been used and how we shall continue to respond to the needs of the people.

  1. Denis Hernandez, has recovered very well, is already walking and his feet and legs have healed from the burns he received.
  2. It has been possible to support single-family transitional shelters (ATUs) in San Juan Alotenango: It’s structure and floor is wood, the roof is of sheet metal sheet, four single-family rooms per unit. They have received plastic boxes to place their belongings, coffee tables and benches. They receive food three times a day.  They have toilets, showers, and a common washing area for clothes.

The atmosphere is pleasant, and the Ministry of Health is in the process of building and equipping a clinic. The children go to a nearby village school, but there are also plans to rehabilitate their original school where they used to live.

  1. A second donation of money was made to the ‘Cocodes’- the local community leaders’ groups who are in Alotenango (the place hit the hardest with the eruption) The community leaders are receiving training in relation to the role they have to play with the communities they work with. One of the ways we are supporting the Cocodes that the community is in securing transparent legal, property-related situations and ensuring that the people are exercising their right to have a voice in decisions that affect their future, a situation that has so far been nil.

The transitional justice organization CAFCA will be accompanying the process for the next four months as they have the tools, knowledge and sensitivity to do this type of work.  Thus, helping these communities in a difficult path ahead. We want to reduce the risk of the people being cheated out of land and assistance.

  1. We also gave a donation to begin organizational work and accompaniment aspects, mainly with the victims from the village of San Miguel who are mostly found in refuges in Escuintla. We will also help in Sacatepéquez: Jocotenango, Alotenango, San Miguel Dueñas.
  2. The family of Josefina , a woman whom Sister Dee met on her travels, lost twenty members and the only surviving adult (Tia Hermelinda) was left with several debts. She had to organize the funeral of her sister, brother-in-law and several children as well as other close family relatives leaving her with many debts. With the donation, she and her three surviving adolescent nephews, can build a house for the five survivors on a piece of family land and secure the land title deeds for the future. They have also bought formula milk for the 2 month old baby food for the family.

A local clinical psychologist, José Manual is volunteering to help the children who survived when their school collapsed, and they lost many friends. He has been planning play days in the fields and   has managed to help the many children who have suffered trauma and continue to suffer with the situation lived during and after the eruption of the volcano. We hope to coordinate a donation so that he can continue to offer therapies to the children.

  1. The loss of loved ones, material goods, livelihood methods and everyday life derived from a geographical disaster, seriously affects the emotional state of the people, their project of life, daily living, coexistence and social, labor and community family relationships. The impact is exacerbated when there has been state negligence in the lack of disaster preparedness and the absence of risk studies in areas where natural and social vulnerability is high.

The Community studies and Psychosocial Action Team (CPT) is serving within and outside the shelters, the various personal situations of the sheltered to meet their needs, vulnerability and strengths.  Making visible the importance of preventing gender-based violence against women, youth and children.

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