Hurricane Otto Relief Bijagua CR

$45,957 of $100k goal

Raised by 338 people in 1 month
Pip Kelly Varela
on behalf of Anna Maria Maybury
 21304
Hurricane Otto was the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record this late in the year and the first hurricane to ever make landfall in Costa Rica since records began in 1851. It created widespread damage across southern Nicaragua and Northern Costa Rica on November 24, 2016.

One of the hardest hit communities was our town of Bijagua in northern Costa Rica. This beautiful little place is located between Tenorio and Miravalles volcanoes. Many visitors come here to visit the Volcano Tenorio National Park and Rio Celeste. Many of the residents are employed in agriculture. Most people here live a simple lifestyle that many would consider ‘poor’.

Hurricane Otto smashed through the center of Bijagua creating absolute devastation and destruction. A month’s worth of rain was dumped in a few short hours. A head of water turned a small stream into a raging river and swept though the town taking everything in its path. Houses, roads and bridges were completely destroyed.  Five community members lost their lives and we are all in mourning.

We have families in our community who have lost everything. In some cases the houses were completely swept away with nothing left. Some people were able to evacuate, some were rescued by their neighbors from rooftops and two young men held onto a mandarin tree as they watched their house being swept away. These are the people who now need our help.

Many just have the clothes on their backs. Emergency refuges have been set up in the local churches and high schools. The community is pulling together to support each other. There are people cooking and donating clothes to those who don’t have anything. There are national donation campaign set up by Red Cross Costa Rica, however there is a need to get funds directly to the families in need in our community as soon as possible. The need is great. And it’s urgent. Your donation will really help people who need support now.

We have formed a local committee of residents of Bijagua to seek donations for members of Bijagua.  The committee is working closely with the ‘Bijagua Development Association’ to manage and distribute the funds collected during this campaign. The Bijagua Development Association is a legally registered association.

Hurricane Otto Bijagua Relief Fund Committee Members:
President: Donald Varla Soto
Vice President: Eliette Artavia
Secretary: Harriet Smith
Treasurer: Pip Kelly
Other members: Mark Pierce and Anna Maria Gentiluomo. 

Who are  we?
This is a community project and we are six people, five of whom currently live in Bijagua, Costa Rica. We came together to try and raise funds for the relief of 30 or so families of Bijagua whose homes were destroyed or washed away totally.

Donald Varela: Resident of Bijagua, dairy farmer and co-owner of Casitas Tenorio B&B.
Eliette Artavia : Resident of Bijagua, retired high school teacher
Pip Kelly: Resident of Bijagua, teacher and co-owner of Casitas Tenorio B&B
Harriet Smith: Resident of Bijagua
retired business owner
Mark Pierce: Resident of Bijagua 
Anna Maria Gentiluomo: Former resident of Bijagua

Relationship to the parties we are raising funds for
We are raising funds for families of our village who have had their houses destroyed during the recent Hurricane Otto. Bijagua is a small community of about 4,000 and is very close-knit. None of the intended recipients are relatives of any of the four people involved. Since we formed our committee, we have found at least five more displaced families.

How the funds will be spent
We hope to raise enough money to provide grants to families so that they can rent a house and furnish it as necessary. We have interviewed the displaced families and have a list that includes names, ID numbers, family composition, what happened and where they lived.
Some families will need a lot -- families who have nothing left and no family to live with; some families can live with relatives for the time being.  All the money spent will be clearly documented with written receipts, independent accounting and photos. completely transparent in our operations. All committee meetings have documented minutes.

 How you intend to get the funds to those in need?
This will be done in person though meetings with the families concerned. Our committee is prioritizing the needs of the families and will work with each family to help them with rental houses, take them shopping and some cash grants. There is a balance between making sure the money is spent for worthy items and giving the families some sense of empowerment.

Anna Maria G is a US citizen with a US bank account. She has lived in Bijagua and knows the community. As gofundme requires a US citizen with a US bank account to withdraw funds, we approached Anna Maria to do so on the comittee's behalf in her name. We can not withdraw money here in Costa Rica, gofundme allows us to fundraise for the cause here, but funds must be withdrawn in the US. Anna Maria will then transfer all funds via international wire to the committee through an electronic transfer. All records of transfers will be kept and published if required. This process is legal and legitimate and we have been in contact with gofundme. Be assured, you donation will reach the ground here and those impacted by the hurricane directly.

A  detailed census has started to record which families have been impacted and what their needs are. Funds will be used to assist these people to re-establish their lives. They need places to live, furniture, white goods, clothes and other supplies. All donations received will directly go to the community members in Bijagua who have been impacted. All payments will be recorded with photo documentation and written receipts. 


We need your help NOW! Please know that you are helping someone who has lost everything.

Please share with you family, friends, colleagues and press contacts.

News stories about Hurricane Otto from the Costa Rican Press:

http://www.nacion.com/sucesos/desastres/Cabeza-piedras-muerte-desolacion-Bijagua_0_1599640105.html

https://www.diarioextra.com/Noticia/detalle/316938/bijagua:-3-muertos-y--un-pueblo-devastado

http://www.teletica.com/Noticias/144408-Pueblo-entero-se-lanza-en-busca-de-una-nina-y-su-madre-arrasadas-por-avalancha-en-Bijagua-de-Upala.note.aspx

http://www.ticotimes.net/2016/11/25/deaths-disappearances-reported-upala

News stories about Hurricane Otto from the International Press:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/hurricane-otto-leaves-dead-costa-rica-161126083019588.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-38103330

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/24/americas/hurricane-nicaragua-costa-rica/

El huracán Otto fue el huracán más fuerte registrado en el Atlántico este fin de año y el primer Hurriane en aterrizar en Costa Rica desde que comenzaron los registros en 1851. Creó daños generalizados a través del sur de Nicaragua y el norte de Costa Rica.

Una de las comunidades más afectadas fue nuestra ciudad de Bijagua, en el norte de Costa Rica. Este precioso lugar se encuentra entre los volcanes Tenorio y Miravalles. Muchos visitantes vienen aquí para visitar el Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio y Rio Celeste. Muchos de los residentes están empleados en la agricultura. La mayoría de la gente aquí vive un estilo de vida simple que muchos consideran "pobre".

El huracán Otto se estrelló a través del centro de Bijagua creando devastación absoluta y destrucción. Un mes de lluvia fue descargado en pocas horas. Una cabeza de agua convirtió un pequeño arroyo en un río furioso y barrió la ciudad tomando todo en su camino. Casas, caminos y puentes fueron completamente destruidos. Cinco miembros de la comunidad perdieron la vida y todos estamos de luto.

Tenemos familias en nuestra comunidad que lo han perdido todo. En algunos casos las casas fueron completamente barridas sin nada. Algunas personas fueron capaces de evacuar, algunas fueron rescatadas por sus vecinos de los tejados y dos jóvenes se sostuvieron en un mandarín mientras observaban su casa siendo barrida. Estas son las personas que ahora necesitan nuestra ayuda.

Muchos sólo tienen la ropa en la espalda. Se han establecido refugios de emergencia en las iglesias locales y en las escuelas secundarias. La comunidad se está uniendo para apoyarse mutuamente. Hay gente cocinando y donando ropa a los que no tienen nada. Hay una campaña nacional de donación creada por la Cruz Roja de Costa Rica, sin embargo es necesario obtener fondos directamente a las familias necesitadas en nuestra comunidad tan pronto como sea posible. La necesidad es grande. Y es urgente. Su donación realmente ayudará a las personas que necesitan apoyo ahora.

Hemos formado un comité local de residentes de Bijagua para buscar donaciones para miembros de Bijagua. El comité está trabajando en estrecha colaboración con la "Asociación de Desarrollo de Bijagua" para gestionar y distribuir los fondos recaudados durante esta campaña. La Asociación de Desarrollo de Bijagua es una asociación legalmente registrada.

Miembros del Comité del Fondo de Ayuda del Huracán Otto Bijagua:

Presidente: Donald Varla Soto
Vicepresidente: Eliette Artavia
Tesorero: Pip Kelly
Secretario: Harriet Smith
Otros: Mark Pierce y Anna Maria G

El comité trabajará con la Asociación de Desarrollo de Bijagua para administrar y distribuir efectivamente donaciones monetarias a las familias necesitadas. Un censo ha comenzado a registrar qué familias han sido impactadas y cuáles son sus necesidades. Los fondos se utilizarán para ayudar a estas personas a restablecer sus vidas. Necesitan lugares para vivir, muebles, electrodomésticos, ropa y otros suministros. Todas las donaciones recibidas irán directamente a los miembros de la comunidad que han sido afectados.

Necesitamos tu ayuda AHORA! Por favor, sepa que está ayudando a alguien que lo ha perdido todo.

Por favor, comparta con su familia, amigos, colegas y contactos de prensa.

















L’ouragan Otto était l’ouragan le plus puissant à frapper le Costa Rica à ce temps-ci de l’année depuis le record établi en 1851. Il a créé des dommages sur une grande étendue, allant du sud du Nicaragua au nord du Costa Rica.
Une des communautés les plus touchées fut celle de Bijagua, notre belle petite ville située au nord du Costa Rica, plus précisément entre les volcans Tenorio et Miravalles. De nombreux touristes viennent ici pour visiter le Parc National du Volcan Tenorio et le Rio Celeste. La plupart des citoyens travaillent dans l’agriculture, ont peu d’argent et ont un mode de vie très simple.
L’ouragan Otto a frappé le centre de Bijagua, créant des dommages très importants. L’équivalent d’un mois de pluie est tombé sur la ville en seulement quelques heures. L’eau a tout emporté sur son passage ; maisons, routes, ponts ont été complètement détruits. Cinq membres de la communauté ont perdu la vie. Certaines familles ont tout perdu, leur maison et tous leurs biens ont été emportés. Certaines personnes ont été évacuées, d’autres ont été secourues par leurs voisins alors qu’elles étaient réfugiées sur le toit de leur maison ou dans les arbres. Ces gens ont maintenant besoin de notre aide. Les églises et l’école secondaire accueillent présentement les sinistrés. Tous les membres de la communauté s’entraident pour fournir de la nourriture et des vêtements à ceux dans le besoin. La Croix Rouge organise des levés de fonds pour venir en aide aux sinistrés du pays. Toutefois, nous sollicitons votre aide pour soutenir directement les citoyens de Bijagua. Les besoins sont urgents, votre aide peut faire une grande différence.

Nous avons organisé un comité qui veillera à répartir les dons aux familles dans le besoin. Ce comité travaille en étroite collaboration avec l’Association de développement de Bijagua, une association légalement enregistrée.

Voici les membres du comité de la levée de fonds pour les sinistrés de l’ouragan Otto :
Président: Donald Varela Soto
Vice-Président: Eliette Artavia
Trésaurier: Pip Kelly
Secrétaire:  Harriet Smith
Otros: Mark Pierce y Anna Maria G

Les fonds amassés seront utilisés pour aider les sinistrés à acheter de la nourriture, des vêtements, des meubles et des matériaux pour la reconstruction de leur maison. Tous les dons seront acheminés directement aux sinistrés de Bijagua.

Nous avons besoin de votre aide MAINTENANT. Vous aiderez des gens qui ont tout perdu. Merci de partager avec votre famille, vos amis, vos collègues, etc.

#otto #ottocr #hurricaneotto #todosporcostarica #somoscostarica #fuerzacostarica
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 1.2K shares on Facebook
Update 5
Posted by Pip Kelly Varela
17 days ago
Today was a great day for all of us on the Hurricane Otto Bijagua Relief Committee!

Thanks to our generous donors, we have completed giving out cash grants to 28 families. The best Christmas gift ever to us to be able to make this happen.

It was a fantastic experience for all of us on the Committee and more than a few tears were shed. Try as I might, I could not hold back the tears when a lady who lost everything hugged me so tight and sobbed into my shoulder.

The good news is -- we have more money to give out! We are transferring more money next week from the US to Costa Rica and plan another distribution in a couple of weeks. They know nothing of this so it will be an amazing surprise to them.

As we all know, when a disaster strikes, there is a lot of attention right away but as time goes on, the attention goes away but the problems for the victims do not.

This was our thinking in planning to distribute the money in three parcels.

We have complete paperwork covering everything, including IDs of the recipients and signed receipts. We also have privacy concerns for our families and we assured them that our lists and receipts and ID copies were just for our use and no one else would have access to them.

As we stated in our GoFundMe page originally, ALL THE MONEY YOU DONATED WENT TO FAMILIES IMPACTED BY HURRICANE OTTO. As a Committee, we chipped in to pay for the bank transfer fees.

If any of you have any questions, we'd be happy to answer.

Just know that the generosity of our donors has made a huge difference in these peoples' lives. And secondarily, a difference in the local small businesses, most of whom will benefit from the purchases made by the families.

You are our heroes!!

Thank-you for thinking of our community this festive season. Thanks to you we have reached 50% of our target goal of $100K. Imagine if you could find just one person (or a few people) to match the donation you made. That would allow us to reach our goal and make even more of a lasting impact on these people's lives.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgCsWBB5LOc

Above is a link to a news video of the area in Bijagua that was destroyed. Footage of Bijagua starts at 1.07minutes.

http://www.ticotimes.net/2016/11/28/small-town-unites-help-hurricane-otto-victims-costa-rican-way

A small town unites to help Hurricane Otto victims ... - The Tico Times written by Harriet Smith.

http://chapelboro.com/town-square/bijagua
Bijagua Hit Hard By Hurricane Otto

On behalf of the community members who have lost everything, we thank-you for your generous donations.
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Update 4
Posted by Pip Kelly Varela
1 month ago
Here is an article from the Tico Times, the English newspaper here in Costa Rica. We appreciate all of your support. #otto #ottocr #hurricaneotto
http://www.ticotimes.net/2016/11/28/small-town-unites-help-hurricane-otto-victims-costa-rican-way
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Update 3
Posted by Pip Kelly Varela
1 month ago
We are working hard as a committee to compile a data base of which families lost their houses during Hurricane Otto. We know the community well, and these people are our family members and friends. Thanks for all of your support. #otto #ottocr #hurricaneotto
The only remains of a house in Bijagua
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Update 2
Posted by Pip Kelly Varela
1 month ago
Three houses once stood in this spot. In the darkness of the night, they were swept away with two families inside them. Four people lost their lives. We are working hard to support these families. Your help is needed and your donation will go directly to these families. You are making a huge difference. Thank-you for all your support. Please spread the word.
The site where three houses once stood.
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 1.2K shares on Facebook
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$45,957 of $100k goal

Raised by 338 people in 1 month
Created November 26, 2016
Pip Kelly Varela  
on behalf of Anna Maria Maybury
BW
$50
Bette Wood
5 days ago

For my daughter's request because she visited there and has many fond memories of the town. Her name is Allison Harmon

VY
$100
Veronica Young
7 days ago

Dear Pip - what a terrible thing! I wish I were there to help personally. I'm glad you are alright, and Wilfredo, too. Fondly, Veronica Young

KL
$50
Katie Little
9 days ago

Such devastation. Honored to have visited such a beautiful town and be able to meet its people.

$250
Michelle Pesce
15 days ago

Sending my love to bijagua and the beautiful people and animals that live there. xx

$50
Anonymous
15 days ago
$250
Anonymous
16 days ago
CY
$50
Curtis Young
17 days ago

Thank you for the update. Best wishes to everybody as you rebuild.

KS
$100
Kerrie Stoops
18 days ago

Was so sad to hear about the hurricane hitting Bijagua recently. What a special place and wha special people in this community! Hope this helps the restoration efforts. :)

HM
$30
Hope Mathumbu
19 days ago

Con mucho carino x

LM
$50
Lyn Munno
19 days ago
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