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Hurricanes Eta and Iota: Guatemala Updates

Hurricanes Eta and Iota devastated many parts of Central America beginning Nov. 3.  You can donate here to Food for the Hungry’s hurricane relief efforts. Your prayers  for the children we work with, and their families, are also needed. We’ll update this space with photos and news of the relief efforts as they continue.

Update: February 23, 2021

There’s been good news from FH Guatemala on efforts to respond to damages from Hurricanes Eta and Iota. Here are a few highlights:

  • Most roads are now cleared of hurricane-induced landslides, although some communities in the Ixil region still have no road access.
  • 3,673 kits containing staple foods, hygiene items, and COVID-19 protective masks have been delivered to families throughout FH’s work zones.
  • United Way of Guatemala donated a portion of the food/hygiene/mask kits.
  • Coca-Cola FEMSA donated over 600 water-purifying filters for communities that suffered the most damage to their water systems.

With the start of the new school year in February, FH Guatemala staff had an important job: Make sure students returned to school. But with so many families hurting economically, the team remained concerned that students could drop out. COVID-19-related job losses and devastation of crops and livestock during the hurricanes drained pocketbooks. While school is tuition-free, students are expected to buy uniforms, books, and school supplies. FH ensured that no student dropped out because of an inability to buy those items.

FH Guatemala is also making sure girls won’t miss school because of their menstrual cycles. Feminine hygiene products are expensive. In much of the world, girls elect to stay home because they have no way to maintain adequate feminine hygiene. By providing needed products, the FH staff ensures that girls have what they need.

Next Steps:

Hundreds of thousands in the communities lost their corn and bean crops, the staple foods in their diets. FH is preparing to distribute seeds and provide technical assistance to make sure those crops mature. We’ll also help families re-start kitchen gardens full of healthy vegetables. There is also a plan to distribute chickens and coops to give families eggs and poultry to eat and sell.

Food distributions will continue for some families. Others will benefit from food-for-work programs that provide staples in exchange for work on projects that benefit their recovering communities.

Recent photos:

 

two women standing in front of table with registration form and hand sanitizer

FH tracks recipients of hygiene kits. Because of COVID-19, all wear masks, and we keep hand sanitizer readily available.

 

two women in front of FH sign with one woman carrying relief supplies

FH continues tp ensure that families have adequate food as well as hygiene items, including towels, soap, shampoo, and  personal items to help them stay clean and healthy.

boys standing on covered porch carrying small relief parcels

Even the younger kids wear masks and help by carrying hygiene items, wrapped in towels, back to their homes.

girl sitting down with hygiene it wrapped in plastic on her lap

A young girl peeks into a hygiene kit that her family received from FH. It is wrapped in plastic and covered with a towel.

Update: November 25, 2020

FH Guatemala has been finding a variety of ways to get food and other items into communities devastated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota.  Today, we received photos showing one special delivery to 350 families that were trapped by landslides in the Ixil region.  The Guatemalan government supplied a helicopter to make the airlift. See the photos below showing the helicopter being loaded, received today from FH Guatemala staffers.

FH staff await the helicopter, which will transport relief packages for the households.

 

The helicopter approaches the staging area.

 

Preparations are completed for loading the helicopter.

 

Everyone available helps to load the relief goods.

An enthusiastic thank you to all who made this possible!

Update: November 17, 2020

Food for the Hungry staff have been able to reach some communities to provide distributions of basic groceries, hygiene items, and blankets. Roads blocked by mudslides continue to be a major barrier. But little by little, FH is reconnecting with the families we work with, keeping long lists of their needs to ensure they can soon get the help needed.

Preparing distribution packages for Ixil region that include many blankets to keep people warm, wherever they are sleeping.

Local leaders in Ixil region remove mud and rocks from landslides that are blocking roads into their communities.

FH staff members distribute relief packages at a designated pick-up point.

Community members receive their relief bundles.

 

Update: November 11, 2020

FH staff members started sending photos of destruction to supporters almost immediately after the storm hit. Several staff had to evacuate their homes. These photos came in the first hours after it was safe to venture outside, as FH staff began talking with community leaders and families to assess the damage.

flooded plain in Guatemala Hurricane Eta

Guatemala’s mountainous terrain causes water to collect in the low valleys, where people live and farm. In addition to flooding homes, the heavy rains washed away crops and livestock. [Location: Chamisun, Alta Verapaz)

We’re publishing these photos exactly as we received them, from staff who wanted supporters to be able to pray for specific communities. That means they often wrote the names of the communities right on the photos, taken on their cell phones. In Santa Avelina, located in Guatemala’s Ixil Triangle region, you can see how the water ravaged roads. This will require that food, water, blankets, and COVID-19 protection items (masks, hand sanitizer) be delivered on foot or via motorcycle, rather than transported in four-wheeled vehicles.

 

Mudslides, like this one in the community of Villa Hortencia 2, continue to be one of the dangerous threats in FH’s Guatemalan communities. They block passage, as the caption on the photos indicates. But worse, they can also be deadly. We received the sad news that one sponsored child named Juan and his mother were killed in Xeucalvitz  (Ixil region), when their house was leveled by a landslide. Please pray for Juan’s father and brother who survived the landslide. They were hospitalized at first but are now recuperating with relatives.

 

Although the rains from Eta have stopped, this is the rainy season in Central America. It’s been raining most days this week. Residents can only watch as the rainwater continues to carve away hillsides and may potentially damage even more homes and businesses.

 

The road running past the community center in San Juan Chamelco (Alta Verapaz) has collapsed. While FH will be concentrating on making sure families are warm, safe, and well-fed in the days to come, long-term work will focus on helping to repair damage to vital infrastructure, including this road.

 

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Hurricane Eta: Nicaragua Updates