Aid for the people affected by the Fuego Volcano
Aiding the survivors
On Sunday, June 3, 2018, as people were enjoying their friends and family, Volcan de Fuego erupted violently, depositing over 12 feet of scorching ash and releasing flows of lava upon the villages nestled below. ( CNN - Fuego Eruption ) The death toll is uncertain, as entire communities are sealed beneath the still smoldering ash. But the survivors – those who were not home in the most effected areas – number in the thousands.
In keeping with the directive of the late Michael Bonderer, “Just Show Up to Make a Difference in the World,” Zuze Bonderer led a mission to Guatemala to bring much needed aid and to assess how Homes from the Heart can help the survivors to rebuild their lives.
Providing food to survivors at Guadalupe Church
In coordination with Padre Geraldo, pastor of Parroquia Nuestra senora de Guadalupe, Homes purchased over 600 pounds of chicken, cold cuts and hot dogs, and 300 eggs to help feed the survivors housed at the Church.
Assisting the rescuers
Homes from the Heart purchased and delivered 68 pairs of boots to area firemen, first responders and volunteers from surrounding communities that are still working to recover those who are lost. The soles of their boots have melted away and cracked due to the intense heat of the ash, so Homes replaced their damaged boots with ones that will better withstand the extreme conditions in which they continue to work, recovering those who were lost.
Supplies have arrived to replace damaged roofs for many families. After the initial damage from the volcano left many homes exposed to the elements, rainy season has cause homes to turn into showers. In addition to the 27 people waiting for Homes from the Heart to fix their roof, we also have six families who desperately need a house to live in due to losses sustained during the volcanic eruption. Many of these families are large and face additional challenges. Stay tuned for updates on the building of these roofs and the tenants awaiting better shelter.
San Andrés Itzapa
We work in the community of San Andrés Itzapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala. A group of indigenous nuns in the community host our volunteer teams at the Carmelo de Nazareth convent, providing meals and lodging. They also help us identify service projects that will have a positive impact within the community.
Our primary work so far in Guatemala has been building ventilated stoves for families in the community. Many people cook with open fires inside their home, breathing in toxic fumes and becoming ill. By building simple, cement block stoves that carry smoke outside of the home, we can improve community health in a substantial way. We're also serving the San Bartolomé school in the community, and will be completing repair projects that are desperately needed there.
On their first visit to the San Andrés Itzapa, the team met Carlos Tejaxun, founder and director of San Bartolomé School. Carlos was able to direct the team to families in need on the volcano. He brought them to the town of El Campamento, where they met a woman named Odelia. She helped them connect with families in real need. At that time, Homes from the Heart provided sheet metal roofing and siding for 15 families in that town.
When the Homes from the Heart team returned to Guatemala in March of 2019, the team was able to build a home for Odelia’s sister. Before, the family of four had lived in a small room off the kitchen of her father’s home. In another room, nine family members shared four beds. After a week-long trip, the family, the Homes from the Heart team, and Miller family volunteers completed a home for the Cornejo family - Kimberly, 22, and Mario, 25, along with their daughters Camila, 5, and Angely, 2.
Homes form the Heart was able to get to know the family a bit during their time there. Many of the men in the family work on farms on the volcano, while the women care for the children, cook, and clean. It is very rural with fruit trees growing in the yard and chickens, cows, and pigs in the back. They made chicken soup one day and informed the team that they had just killed the chickens hours before. They also all have smartphones, and connected with Homes from the Heart team members on Facebook. They were very grateful to Homes from the Heart, and the feeling was mutual due to this shared experience and their hospitality. In the future, Homes from the Heart hopes to return to Guatemala and help more families in that community.