June 6, 2018 – Escuintla, Escuintla, Guatemala | Libna Stevens/IAD
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Guatemala, with the help of its church member volunteers, continues to distribute water and food to families displaced by the deadly volcano eruptions in the south central region of Guatemala. The Volcano of Fire began spewing lava and ash on June 3, covering villages, leaving more than 75 dead and more than 200 persons missing, government officials reported.
More than 1.7 million people have been affected by the eruption. Over 3,000 persons were evacuated and more than 2,600 persons are in shelters. Hundreds more are stranded inside their homes across the rural communities of Escuintla, Alotenango, Sacatepéquez, Yepocapa and Chimaltenango.
“From the very first day the volcano erupted, our local emergency response team met with local authorities to visit the affected villages near the volcano to encourage people to seek safe shelter,” said Gustavo Menéndez, ADRA Guatemala director, who has been coordinating the ADRA response from Guatemala City some 63 kilometers from Escuintla.
“Our main concern is to encourage people to seek shelter, although hundreds fear they will lose all their belongings if they leave their homes” said Menéndez.
So far, three trucks with water, food, blankets and hygiene supplies have been delivered to shelters, all collected from churches across several church regions in Guatemala, said Menéndez.
Church leaders reported that 124 Adventist families were affected. Some 101 of these families lost their crops, 6 lost their homes, while 17 families were evacuated. Funds have been disbursed from the Inter-American Division’s Emergency Response Funds to assist the families.
Clothes, food, water, blankets and hygiene kits will continue to be collected throughout churches in the eight conferences and missions across Guatemala and three more trucks are expected to deliver supplies by the end of the week to help those in shelters, added Menendez.
ADRA Guatemala will target some 1,500 families who have lost their crops in the rural communities of San Miguel los Lotes, El Rodeo and La Reina in the Escuintla Department, with food rations and hygiene kits in the next two days, said Menéndez.
“Special attention will be given to single mothers and disabled persons as well as elders in these communities,” Menéndez said.
In addition, ADRA International is committed to providing funds to assist families in rebuilding their lives after the basic needs are provided in coordination with the local ADRA Guatemala office, said Menéndez. “It will take more than a year for these farming families to grow plantains, coffee, pineapples and more to support themselves, so we need to help them restore their economic situation.”
Elsewhere within the ADRA global network, funds have been sent from ADRA South American Division, as well as from Mexico and El Salvador, Menéndez added.
To learn more about ADRA Guatemala and the Adventist Church’s assistance to those affected by the Volcano of Fire eruptions, go to AdventistasGUA on Facebook