Fuego Eruption Emergency Relief

$42,962 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 367 people in 15 days
On Sunday,  June 3 the Fuego Volcano in Guatemala erupted, wiping out several communities in the path of the falling lava and ash. 

We are raising money for the families in Los Lotes, El Rodeo and other neighboring communities located in the foothills of Fuego that were in the path of the eruption and lost everything. Specifically, we will put the funds collected toward the following to help the affected families to survive these immediate days after the eruption and to begin rebuilding their homes:

- food
- flashlights and batteries
- shoes
- personal hygiene items
- blankets
- furniture (tables, beds, chairs)
- basic kitchen supplies
- tin sheets for roof and house construction & building supplies
- toys for small children

These funds will be received by Amigos de Vamos Adelante ( http://www.vamosadelanteproject.org/) and then immediately put in the hands of the Foundation Vamos Adelante
( http://www.vamosadelante.org/) - both are 501(c)(3) organizations. Vamos Adelante has served the affected communities for more than 20 years. Listen to Director, Nina Jorgensen, report on the catastrophe during an interview with Jerome McDonnell at WBEZ Chicago on Monday, June 4: 


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Over the weekend Nina and a friend visited the Fuego disaster zone, where the remains of the village of San Miguel Los Lotes are located. As you would expect, Nina said it was a very intense experience. The photos below speak for themselves. Small clusters of people were scattered across the scorched landscape of the buried village. Shovels in hand, they continue digging in search of their lost family members. Nina reports: "Seeing these people digging in that hard and, in some places, still steaming soil urged for a different solution: finding more machines to help them." Vamos Adelante coordinated plans with an engineer to contract a few machines to assist with the laborious excavating. However, shortly thereafter an official announcement was posted stating that all search efforts are officially finished due to the inhabitable and high risk nature of the disaster zone. Despite this, the intense work cleaning up the big highway alongside the village continues, which is a bit difficult to understand, especially for those whose relatives are buried. These families will need official permits to bring machinery in to help them. If they are able to obtain these from the authorities, Vamos Adelante will be ready to help get equipment right away.

In the meantime, the families in Ceylan continue receiving a daily meal from World Central Kitchen (~1,000 per day). The rain also continues to fall. Vamos Adelante promoters, Maide and Rocio, who permanently moved out of their homes in El Rodeo, are struggling to find houses to rent but continue their search this week. The support you have offered is very much appreciated by those who call the foot of Fuego "home".
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Vamos Adelante and World Central Kitchen (WCK; https://www.worldcentralkitchen.org/chefsforguatemala-update) continue to deliver food daily to the isolated community of Ceylan, high up on the side of Fuego. WCK has been distributing food to other locations as well, so Nina has recently been charged with meeting the Ceylan promoters in Siquinala to hand off the meals for the day.

She reports yesterday: "So early today I drove 800 delicious hot meals, 500 sandwiches, 150 apples, boxes of bananas to Siquinala, where Glenda and Mayra [Vamos Adelante promoters] were waiting for me with a pickup close to the rivers. They brought the food up to Ceylan for distribution."

Later in the afternoon Nina met with the local rescue workers who continue searching for missing bodies buried in the ash and debris. This group of locals has been digging every day for over a week now. She learned that the families need help with money to buy diesel so they can use the loaned excavator (from a neighboring farm) to continue their search. Furthermore, she learned many of their boots have worn out and some have holes burned in them due to the still hot buried layers of lava and debris. Vamos Adelante will provide both funds for diesel fuel and for new boots so these locals may continue searching for the bodies of their family, friends and neighbors. Thank you for helping to enable Vamos Adelante to provide as these urgent and important needs arise.
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Thank you all for the support you've offered. You may have heard that earlier this week, on Monday afternoon, mud, rocks and debris (a lahar) came pouring down from San Miguel Los Lotes and toward El Rodeo, entering homes and covering roadways.

The Vamos Adelante community education promoter, Maide, lives in El Barrio, between San Miguel Lots Lotes and El Rodeo. There she shared a simple little house with her aunt. Although Maide’s house was not destroyed, this whole area is now considered a "red zone" for volcanic activity. As a precaution, authorities told everybody who lived in the zone they need to relocate permanently. Nina shared: "Staying in the shelter and hearing these news is a huge blow. Of course everybody is happy to have escaped the disaster, but where are they supposed to go now and what about their belongings? How will they be able to afford the transportation, moving and rebuilding cost?"

Rocio is another community education promoter for Vamos Adelante. She lives in Santa Rosa, right behind the little Vamos Adelante school and she is in the same situation as Maide. She, her husband and their three children are getting very frustrated staying in the overcrowded shelter and, like everybody else, have been eagerly waiting to return to their home. However, they now will all not be allowed to do this. They must instead quickly pick up their belongings and leave.

Since it is uncertain when housing will be provided by the government, Vamos Adelante will pay to move Maide and Rocio out of their homes and cover each of their rentals of a little house until permanent housing is decided on and available. This way they will have some stability and these promoters can return to work. Nina reported, "When the community education promoters received this news today, both became very emotional and are so very thankful to see a bit of light on the horizon!"

Maide went yesterday morning to her house to pack up (see photos). She said the smell of the eruption debris and general area was horrible. It was very hard to leave her house as she had worked so hard and saved over the years to build it. Yesterday afternoon Maide and Rocio looked at several houses available in Escuintla and will hopefully both live in places they can call a “temporary home” before the weekend is over.

Many families in shelters plan to move in with friends or family that live outside the red zone, but do not have the money to pay for moving costs. Many of these families, who have been connected to Vamos Adelante since its start approximately 20 years ago, have contacted Nina looking for support. Vamos Adelante is helping to cover their moving costs.
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The volcano remains very active and the main, dirt road from El Rodeo (which was evacuated following the eruption) to Zapote (where the Vamos Adelante clinic/office is), which crosses four rivers with no bridges, is not passable. It has been raining heavily in the afternoons and nights, and the water mixed with debris from higher up the volcano has destroyed any sign of the previously-existing road. It has also turned what were previously tiny creeks into raging rivers.

So, Vamos Adelante has continued to take the backroads in from Siquinala with World Central Kitchen (WCK; https://www.worldcentralkitchen.org/chefsforguatemala-update) to hand out warm food up in the village of Ceylan (which is located even further West than Zapote; see photos). Nina says, "The drive is challenging, as we never know in what conditions the rivers we have to cross will be." One day, there was a big mudslide on the final stretch of the road to Ceylan, so the families from the village worked hard to clear it to restore access to their community for emergency aid to enter (see photos). They were relieved when Nina and WCK arrived with sandwiches.

Nina has also visited shelters (see photos) in Escuintla, where those evacuated from San Miguel Los Lotes, El Rodeo, Santa Rosa, La Reina, El Rancho, San Pancho, La Trinidad and El Zapote are staying. She is relieved to report the list of survivors from San Miguel Los Lotes she has been working to compile is growing, though they continue searching for hundreds who are still missing. This list will become increasingly important as the rebuilding process begins and outside support floods in. Nina reports: "On the return trip we visited several shelters where WCK is delivering food and I met several of our affiliated families. There was enough food, clothes and hygiene articles, and the general generosity and private initiatives Guatemalans are showing is amazing. I also met several people from San Miguel Los Lotes and heard many heart-breaking stories."

The Guatemalan government is actively seeking land for those whose homes were in the path of Fuego's pyroclastic flow last week, including from Los Lotes and El Rodeo. In the meantime, these people are living in shelters and simultaneously struggling to keep their jobs despite the blocked road to Antigua. Students are concerned about getting back to school and are beginning to worry about passing their exams after so much time away.

Those from villages that were evacuated, but not destroyed, want to return to their regular lives, but they are not allowed to right now. There are also rumors that people from nearby villages that have not yet been fully evacuated will not be allowed to stay either, but will be forced to permanently relocate instead. This rumor includes the village Zapote, where the Vamos Adelante base is. Currently, approximately 1/3 of the Zapote population is in shelters. It is unclear at this point what will happen to the Vamos Adelante school in Santa Rosa (next to Rodeo) and to the clinic/office base in Zapote. For now, Vamos Adelante is temporarily operating out of Ceylan to attend to immediate student needs. It is possible the project will need to consider renting a new base office in Escuintla or closer to Antigua when the road re-opens.

Thank you all for the support that continues flowing in, keeping Guatemala in your thoughts and sharing these updates with others!
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$42,962 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 367 people in 15 days
Funds raised will benefit:
Amigos De Vamos Adelante NFP
  Certified Charity
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Elburn, IL
EIN: 452123906
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