Dear Vamos Adelante Friends,
In theory we are in the middle of the rainy season but so far it has been raining fairly mildly compared to other years. In other parts of the country people suffer of drought and its consequences but in the Boca Costa, the area, where we are located, the rains have been pretty normal and luckily we have not experienced any terrible tropical storms. Several days it rained hard and lahares came down on the slopes of Fuego filling the riverbeds with lava and the roads were not passable. October can be the worst month of the rainy season and let’s see what surprises it has for us.
With the Fuego eruption more than one year ago now, normality has sort of crawled in to the villages again, of course everybody keeps a close look on the volcano and pays more attention to sounds from that direction and especially when the siren goes off. In all surrounding villages early warning systems have been installed. It remains a high risk area, which is also the reason we do not accept volunteers nor medical teams in remote villages. For the same reasons we only give class to small groups of children in our afternoon school in Ceylan. They can be picked up quickly by the parents in case of an evacuation. When we hear strong explosions everybody runs out to see where the lava is coming down and when the explosion is very loud and threatening we become pretty nervous, ready to grab our bags at any time. Some days we cannot supervise students when the volcano is too active.
The people of Las Palmas, a village very close the big dangerous river (La Ceniza) have now been moved to temporary homes in Escuintla where the other disaster victims from last year live. The river has flooded the village several times putting the families in big danger. They were urged by government authorities to move away from there to houses that the government is providing. Presently 156 families have moved, which is about half the village. More will probably follow. On their request, in June and July Vamos Adelante helped them with the donation of good reliable water filters and sturdy solar lamps.
The disaster survivors had some severe problems with the drinking water in the temporary as well as in the new permanent homes with the supposedly purified water. It looks murky, smells funny and many have been sick with diarrhea ,several with hepatitis. Again we were approached by the village El Barrio if we could help them with water filters as well as solar lamps (the electricity is not very stable). Thanks to generous donors, we were able to help again.
When Vamos Adelante hands out donations we demonstrate in detail the usage as well as the maintenance and make certain that the recipients show us that they understood. Just handing out donations without explaining how they work is irresponsible and often leads to that the items terminate unused in a corner, perhaps break and being useless.
At the end of May, the first families, all victims of the volcano disaster from June 2018, received their ownership papers and moved in to their new very nice homes in Escuintla. Parks have also been built in several areas and the people are very happy to be living in their own house. It brings peace to their life. At the end of July phase two of the government housing project for the disaster victims began and the families from San Miguel Los Lotes started to move to their new houses as well as several other villages, in total it will be 1,000 houses by the end of this year. As you can see, the houses are very nice and are located in the center of Escuintla, about 30 minutes by car from their original village. Playgrounds, parks and a nice school are available.
May 2019 and end of July 2019, pictures of the same boy!!:
In May, we identified several children who were very malnourished, one little boy 1 year 1 month old then weighing only 10 pounds and 7 ounces. We brought him to a clinic where they have specialized in helping malnourished children. When he left the hospital two months later he weighed 18.5 pounds!
Another little girl we were able to help directly in her village and she is now coming to eat every day in our food kitchen and in addition receives extra milk. Both children come from a very remote area high up on the volcano, where there is little work available. Most families there live of farming corn and beans if they have land, or they are cutting and selling maxan, which is being used for the traditional food called tamal. Money for buying medicine or baby milk is not in their very limited budget. Luckily we can help through our most effective food kitchen and godparents.
In July, we helped the Guatemalan Red Cross by lending them our school installations for a medical mission.
Vamos Adelante friends donated several good beds, which we brought to elderly living very remote, you can guess how happy they were over this wonderful gift.
Soon it is time for the students to drop off their application for a scholarship extension for 2020 as our little admission tests will begin in October. We expect a steep increase compared to the last two years as many parents have become unemployed on the rubber farms, on sugar cane farms more machines are replacing manpower. Cutting coffee is only temporary for a few months and what their alternative will be for the future is yet unknown. We offer education, a long term but certain path to march out poverty.
Vamos Adelante feels very happy and proud that you continue to trust us and as always we are doing our best to help people in need.
Thank you very much and many warm regards from the families, the children, elderly and the Vamos Adelante team!