GoFundMe has asked me to provide additional information including answering the following questions. I assume this is to ensure that unethical people do not take advantage of the tragedy in Guate by collecting money under false pretenses. So here goes!
Who you are?
My name is Mer Rainwater and I have spent a good chunk of time in Guatemala over the past 12 years and have met people I now consider close friends. I originally traveled to Guate in 2007 to study Spanish. It was on that first trip that I stumbled into Dyslexia Libros and started talking politics with Carlos who was manning the books that day. Of course we ended up at Cafe No Se, the best little dive bar in the world. Many of the people who have donated to this campaign have a similar story as mine or they live near or work at the cafe. Cafe No Se is a fulcrum of friendship and collaboration. That little bar, and the many holidays I have spent on 1st Ave Sur with the irregulars and misfits, all hold a special place in my heart.
Where you're from?
I am from California and currently live in Oakland. I moved from Orange County to San Francisco in 1994 to attend graduate school.
Your relationship to the parties you're raising funds for?
One of my dear friends in Gaute is Mercedes Escobar who I have known for years and have spent many holidays with. Recently, she traveled to visit me in Oakland. She is a bright and competent woman who lives in Antigua. She was born and raised in Guatemala City where her family still lives. After the eruption, Mercedes put out a call for help. One of the most pressing needs was getting life saving medicines and medical supplies to first responders and displaced victims in shelters. Mercedes has lived her whole life in Guate and was able to quickly assess the immediate needs and how to get medicines to the people who needs them, but she needed money. It is well known that in Guatemala the government is slow to act in such instances if at all. Corruption is rife and locals know that it is safest to get aid directly to those who need it versus funding large organizations or waiting for the government. Mercedes put out the call and I made this page. The quick spread of this page is the result of the vast network of Cafe No Se friends around Guate, the States and in Europe. Mercedes asked, and our friends are responding. I know many of the names on the donor list.
How the funds will be used (be specific as possible)?
Mercedes is focusing only on medicine and medical supplies. Supplies in Antigua (closer to the devastation area) are already running out. Mercedes has moved to Guatemala City to search for needed medicines, negotiate prices, and coordinate delivery to rescue workers and first responders. Mercedes is keeping all receipts and posting pictures of them. She will ultimately put everything in a spreadsheet which will be made publicly available so that every cent is accounted for. ALL MONIES WILL GO TO THE RELIEF EFFORT.
If you intend to withdraw the money, how you plan to send the funds to the parties you're raising money for or use the money on their behalf?
Because there is a delay in getting such fundraising monies to folks on the ground (transfers are not immediate, banks can take days to verify funds, etc) I am acting as a financial bridge to get Mercedes the money immediately. I am using my own money, cash, which I am wiring to her via Western Union. I am tracking all disbursements which will also be presented in a spreadsheet so supporters can track what occurred. Mercedes and I are in constant contact and she is posting regular updates on hers, mine and friends Facebook pages. As the GoFundMe transfers to my bank account are made, I will make sure every cent is wired to Mercedes (I am even eating the costs for Western Union).
I apologize that this explanation was not sufficient when I started the campaign but the situation was urgent and this is my first time doing a GoFundMe campaign.
Please contact me if you need additional information.
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