Guatemala Volcano Disaster

£8,634 of £100,000 goal

Raised by 119 people in 14 months
30387802_1528469443.8676_funddescriptionOn the 3rd of June, Guatemala´s ´Fire´ Volcano erupted.
The death toll stands at 110 and rising, at least 200 missing, over 300 injured, 47 with serious burns, and over 3000 evacuated. There has been much speculation in the country that number being reported as persons missing is far below the actual number. Since visiting shelters and speaking with survivors and they filters loses they have suffered we do get a sense also that the number is inaccurate. 

The Guatemalan Government have announced they have no emergency funds to help their own people. Many survivors are returning to the devasted villages using hand tools to dig for the bodies of their loved ones.

The survivors of this tragedy have lost everything, they receive nothing from their government.  They are relying on the good will of ordinary people here and abroad.

In a country with an already  severely under resourced health system, a fire service who have to beg on the streets for funds, there is a desperate need for support. 

For those who do not know me, I am Irish and live with my Guatemalan partner, Lhess, and our 2 year o30387802_1529285999537706_r.jpeg30387802_1529286042868182_r.jpeg30387802_1529286071327884_r.jpeg30387802_1529286110281822_r.jpeg30387802_1529286158534738_r.jpegld son,  20 minutes from the disaster area.  I am a Social Worker by profession and Lhess is a Dentist. We are reaching out to our friends and family around the world to ask for your support to those most in need.

Please donate what you can or share this page with friends and family.
Donations will be directly used to buy emergency goods, including much needed medication.

Depending on the amount of donations received  we hope to also use your support to provide for longer term needs, such as housing.

I will keep you updated with exactly how your donations are used.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
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Dear Friends & Family

Here is an update on what we have been doing these past weeks.

On Friday the 19th of July we visited El Rodeo, Santa Rosa, and La Reina Communities.

In El Rodeo with Gofundme donations we delivered basic food supplies to 27 families in need. In total 114 people, including 56 children received food. There were older people, single parent families, people with disabilities.

We are fully aware that the food distributed only gives short term relief, however in a country where food banks or state aid/benefits do not exist it at least gives short term support to people in great need, who are literally trying to.survive day by day. We know in all of the communities we have come to know that there are families living in extreme poverty, however, whether it is wishful thinking here in Guatemala we would prefer to find a way to meet the ongoing needs of these families and those living in the same level of poverty in neighbouring communities.

In Santa Rosa, we visited an older couple, Mr & Mrs Cayetano in the community of Santa Rosa. Poverty is widespread in Guatemala, however this couple's quality of life, their living & health conditions was severe.

Don Cayetano, who is in his late 80s, had a stroke 8 months ago leading to right side paralysis. He cried throughout our visit, when speaking about the life changing affect this has had on his life. He is suffering, his days pass lying on a sofa given by a neighbor and sleeps in a bed at night that was donated when he lived in a shelter after last year's eruption. Before this the couple had no bed. The couple have no money they depend on what others give them. They have family nearby but they too are living in poverty.

Dona Cayetano cuts up her clothing to make continence pads for her husband. As well as caring for her husband she has her own health concerns including a terrible infection on her finger for the past 7 months, a broken bone that did not set properly and as such curve of bone on her wrist jutting out. We tried to convince her to consider going to hospital however her fear of amputation is the main obstacle. We have reached out to her since the visit and her decision remains the same.

To Don Cayetano we gave a wheelchair donated by Mariel Castellanos (who has worked tirelessly to help the people affected by the eruption) and some basic food supplies. There are other items we wish to buy that we hope can provide some relief.

In La Reina Community we had a meeting regarding a request from the community to purchase avocado (about £3 per tree) and lime trees (£2 per tree) for 100 families. Their longer term goal is to provide a means of income to these families. Each of the 100 families own a small piece of land, provided to them at the end of Guatemala’s 36 year Civil War in the 1990s at a lower purchase price. The families have since paid off and now own their land. As discussed during our meeting this project would require more detailed planning, assess the land to determine what would grow there, a larger investment than what we could provide that would be more suited to an organization or university that focuses on rural development or agriculture, as well as supporting the families to care for their crops and sell.

In June we visited for the first time the communities of Morelia, Santa Sofia, and Yucales. This was part of the early stages of planning with a charity in England who wish to support in the installation of further alarms in communities at high risk. It was a 2.5 hour journey to reach the communities, half the journey was spent travelling on dirt roads, crossing rivers to reach the communities.

Life is so difficult in the communities around the volcano. I know it is so much in the news but if you ever wonder what type of places people come from who make the journey overland through Mexico into the United States it is people and families from these communities who choose the risks including death, and people trafficking, or separation from their children.

In this update I have wanted to share not only how Gofundme funds are being used but also the other work we have been involved in. We remain in close contact with the communities we have worked with, people are truly grateful for the support and care. Each time we meet we explain where the support has come from, this is really important to us and also for the communities to be aware that there is a world out there who cares. We often now meet people who remember us from the time we visited the shelters. With every request made to us we always try to consider how we might help, whether through donations or connecting with other persons or organizations.

Thank you so much for all of your support and keeping up with our updates. We keep going because of your support.

With Gratitude and Greatest Thanks,

Helena and Lhess

1st photo: Meeting in La Reina community

2nd photo: Distributing food

3rd photo: Cayetano Family
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Dear Friends & Family,

Today is the 1st year anniversary since the tragedy.

To mark the day the 4th alarm system was inaugurated in the community of El Rodeo. Following this a walk of remembrance took place from El Rodeo to the devastated town of San Miguel Los Lotes.

It is hard to believe that one year has already passed.
We began the Gofundme page not knowing how far this support could reach, never imagining that it would reach thousands of people.

It has been a privilege for us to be part of this and we hope to continue to do what we can for the people who remain living in the high risk area around the volcano.

The installation of the first alarm system has led to established charities taking up the project and extending it further. Even after one year this project is continuing to grow and in the coming weeks I hope to share more details.

Please know that your support has impacted thousands of people over this past year.

With Greatest Thanks and Gratitude,

Helena & Lhess

1st photo created by the children of El Rodeo primary school to remember those who lost their lives
2nd photo of the walk of remembrance
3rd photo of Fuego volcano today, on the list side is the community alarm system.
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The community alarms project that we have been working on since September last year was discussed in Guatemala's National newspaper, El Periodico, in their Sunday edition.


The journalist shared this morning that it was their 2nd most read article online yesterday. The article also published photos and a video that we shared.

The article discusses some of the very real dangers and problems facing the communities with the onset of rainy season.

This project began with donations received by our Go Fund Me page and was able to expand to three other communities with the support of the charity/NGO Casasito USA.

As well as the alarms we have also been able to provide Motorola radios to aid communication and community organisation in case evacuation is deemed necessary, as telephones will not work in a big eruption.

Thank you Everyone who has given their support to this work. I wish you could hear and feel the gratitude expressed by the community Leaders to really know the impact your support has.
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Hello Friends & Family,

This is a short update. When I last wrote I described the high risk of Lahares (floods carrying volcanic boulders and debris) to the communities around the volcano. Rainy season has begun early and although not as heavy as is expected in the forthcoming months already the Lahares have begun to threaten these communities. We have heard first hand from the leaders of the fear amongst the people, hearing the floods close to their homes, boulders moving. With this update I have uploaded a video from yesterday of what the community of Las Palmas tried to salvage the bridge out of their community after it was destroyed the night before by Lahares.

The work with Casasito to install the community alarms in El Rodeo, Santa Rosa, and Las Palmas towns are nearly complete. Lhess visited yesterday and Santa Rosa and Las Palmas have completed their installation.
With your donations we purchased a transformer for Las Palmas and hopefully by the end of next week they will receive two Motorola radios which Las Palmas have said they are in great need of.

Our main goal and focus remains to try and set up further community alarms and radios if we can gain the funds whether through Go Fund me or with the support of charities who wish to help the thousands of people living in these high risk areas close to the volcano.

Video from Las Palmas community where over 300 families live at high risk from Lahares.

Photos of the damage caused by Lahares to water pipes to El Rodeo community as well as showing the hight the floods reached this week. Guatemala is not yet in rainy season and this is happening.
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£8,634 of £100,000 goal

Raised by 119 people in 14 months
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