Guatemala Volcano Disaster

£7,634 of £100,000 goal

Raised by 118 people in 11 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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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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Dear Friends & Family,

Before sharing the details of our recent work I wish to share in numbers just how far your support has gone in our most recent work;

8000 People - 6 x Motorola UHF radios for 3 communities

2500 People - 1 Emergency Alarm System for 430 families living in La Reina community.

12 communities (towns) remain in the areas of high risk in the event of huge eruptions. Our efforts have concentrated on 3 of these, La Reina, El Rodeo, and Santa Rosa.

20 Million Tonnes of debris (made up of boulders and ash) reportedly erupted from Fuego Volcano on the 3rd of June. However, only 1 million tonnes of debris fell.

19 million tonnes of loose debris remains on the volcano putting reportedly 30 communities at risk. The communities live with the risk of destruction caused by eruptions but also what are known as lahares.

With the onset of rainy season in May, the threat of Lahares increases as the heavy rains will cause floods through the river, ravines, and pathways created by lava that surround the communities. The rain will push the debris of boulders and ash threatening thousands of life. Some communities route of escape is to cross rivers, impossible if there is lahar.

Fuego Volcano’s activity varies but generally there are regularly about 10 small eruptions per Hour. From our own home we have a clear view of Fuego, it is common for us at our distance to see lava, hear the eruptions, feel our doors and windows shake with the power of these eruptions. Living so close to the volcano, for us it is not a question of if a disaster will occur again, but when. From meeting with community leaders this is their view also. For this reason finding ways accelerate and warn people of evacuation is of the highest priority.

Lhess, my partner, is continuing to work with the charity, Casasito, to complete the installation of alarm systems in 3 of the 12 communities in the zone of risk.

Since my last update, we purchased 6 Motorola Radios for 3 communities, two for each as telephones will not work if there is a large eruption. The suggestion was made by the leaders of the communities as another means to coordinate evacuation.

We arranged for an expert to go to the area and test that the radios would work and the distance they would cover. The radios have been set up in order that on one channel all three communities can communicate and coordinate a large scale evacuation using the alarm systems set up in each of the communities. The radios can potentially buy minutes and in doing so help to save lives.

We delivered the radios one week ago and presented them to the President and Leaders of each community. Already the communities have successfully used the radios, days after receiving, to respond and coordinate support to fight fires on the land surrounding the communities (a risk in Guatemala during dry season)

Approximately 10% of the donations remain. We hope to use the remainder to purchase radios for one, possibly two more communities.

When we began this journey, we truly did not know how far we could go, what we could do to support. We are so thankful for all that you have given because thousands of people have benefited from over £6000 received.

An essential part of our work is listening to the people, paying attention to what the communities advise would help them. The alarm systems and radios would not be a success without working directly with the Communities, they are at the heart of our work.

With Go fund donations and the work of Casasito 4 out of 12 communities will now have emergency alarm systems in place.

If we could concentrate on one area of support in the future it would be to focus on prevention by setting up Emergency Alarm systems and providing radios to the 8 remaining communities. Whether or not this can be achieved through donations or work with other charities we will do our utmost to achieve this.

With Greatest Thanks and Appreciation Always,

Helena and Lhess

Photo 1: presenting radios to El Rodeo community

Photo 2: A map showing the communities surrounding the volcano

Photo 3: A photo of a river near to the 3 communities where there is a high risk of lahar flooding of water, boulders, ash during rainy season (May to October.
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This morning we received the very sad news that a young girl named Anaruth who we first met when she was in Simon Bergano shelter passed away this morning at 2am.

Anaruth was 11 years old, she had one older brother and sister. Her mother cared for her 24/7.

After the eruption on the 3rd of June, Anaruth's parents made the decision not to return to live at their home in Santa Rosa community as it was too much of a risk, particularly for Anaruth.

Throughout the months we have know Anaruth with your help and that of friends and family locally we were able to provide support with items that Anaruth needed, such as getting her wheelchair adapted.

Anaruth lived with severe disabilities, and in a country where there is little support available to help a child and their family with these needs. However, she always had the love and care of her family regardless of the difficulties they faced in striving for a better quality of life.

Please keep Anaruth and her family in your thoughts and prayers today. We will never forget this beautiful Angel.
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£7,634 of £100,000 goal

Raised by 118 people in 11 months
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