The Blog: Update 9

It has been nearly one full month since Fuego’s initial eruption and yet, still, the volcano is not quiet. Furthermore, rain and unpredictable rivers, ash and sand from Fuego are making life very difficult.

In the cutoff (but not evacuated) village of Ceylan the number of cases of diarrhea among children and adults have been increasing during the past two weeks . To address this problem, Vamos Adelante has purchased 300 new water filter systems and 150 replacement filters. These will be delivered on Tuesday this week if the rivers permit. The roofs have suffered terribly up in Ceylan as well, and many urgently need to be replaced as the rain is not relenting. Vamos Adelante purchased tin sheets for the 100 families whose roofs were most severely affected. These roofs should be delivered on Thursday this week if all goes well with the roads, rivers, etc..

Vamos Adelante continues to partner with World Central Kitchen to distribute ~ 1,000 warm and healthy meals in this community each day. This week, World Central Kitchen will bring several stoves and food to Ceylan and a group of local women in the community will begin to take over the daily food preparations.

Those who lost or have been forced to evacuate their homes due to the eruption remain in shelters. Vamos Adelante promoters have been visiting these families and have also continued to locate other families from San Miguel Los Lotes who are instead in homes of their friends or families. Their sadness is immense. Vamos Adelante is offering them support in various ways, including helping to cover funeral costs, transportation to work, and inquiring about their other needs to help them find solutions. Most are in shock and do not wish for anything but to have a home again. Some need a psychologist to process the trauma, so Vamos Adelante is helping to coordinate these connections. There are many children who were badly burnt and will need ongoing medical care. Many of these families are afraid they will not be able to pay for therapy and medicine, so Vamos Adelante is committing to help them with these if they need the support. Finding the bodies of loved ones is still a very important priority for these people. The search continues and more bodies have been located during the past few days. Vamos Adelante is continuing to help pay for diesel for the excavating machine on loan.

The families in the cramped and over-crowded shelters have been very worried about the lack of information regarding their future, but this past week if finally became somewhat clearer what governmental and other support they may soon receive. Several articles were published last week about new shelters being built. The first new shelter for 600 people was quickly constructed and the process of moving the first 28 families has begun. More shelters are under construction and will soon be available on the same piece of land. Compared to the existing shelters (which are in schools, big halls, etc.) the tents are more spacious and comfortable, and have more privacy for each family. Soon these families will be moved to temporary wooden homes while new permanent homes are being built.

The plans for construction of 1,000 houses were also recently announced. The people from San Miguel Los Lotes who lost their homes and others from Zone Zero will be given priority in the allocation of these new homes when they are completed. Many large and experienced organizations are involved in these processes, and a registration process in the municipality is in process to allocate the new shelter space and homes.

It was also announced that school will resume for children on July 9th. Some children will receive class in the shelters where special tents will be set up for this purpose, which is a temporary transition plan while new schools are being built. Other children will go to local schools nearby. Last week, a meeting with people from El Rodeo, Santa Rosa and La Reina was held during which, according to some participants, the mayor of Escuintla declared these communities as “dangerous” and “inhabitable”. However, the next day the director of the local school in El Rodeo told the families who had returned to the area despite it being deemed “inhabitable” (because they have nowhere else to go and could not tolerate the crowded shelters any longer) that classes would resume today, on Monday, July 2nd. The Vamos Adelante team and those whose lives have been turned upside down by this eruption find these mixed messages a bit confusing and frustrating for trying to determine the way forward.

Thank you for supporting the Vamos Adelante team as they work hard to help and support those affected by Fuego’s eruption to the best of their ability in this constantly-evolving difficult scenario.

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