28
Jan

0

Relief donations sent to Guatemala in response to the November 2012 earthquake

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook Guatemala’s Pacific coastline at 10:35am on 7 November 2012, around 200 kilometres west-southwest of Guatemala City, 35 km south of Champerico (Retalhuleu department) and at a depth of 24.1 km. On the same day, a state of calamity was declared in eight departments: San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, Quiche, Solola, Retalhuleu, and Suchitepéquez Totonicapán. More than 1 million people were affected, and the earthquake caused many large-scale landslides, blackouts and water outage.

Swift relief assistance was provided to governmental buildings and the reconstruction of main national roads began immediately, however assistance for many rural communities did not arrive until several days later, and survivors left in damaged houses were not able to receive any relief supplies. The large disparity between urban and rural areas in Guatemala had a significant impact on the relief activities – only 10% of the whole population accounts for half of the national income, and approximately 60% of the population live under the poverty line.

Just two weeks prior to the earthquake, on 25-26 October 2012, Peace Boat’s 77th Global Voyage visited Puerto Quetzal, about 80 kms from Guatemala City. Upon hearing news of the disaster, participants onboard the ship held a large fundraising effort, coordinated by the group of Disaster Volunteer Leader Training trainees. As a result, 5,299 USD was raised in a short period of time.

In collaboration with our partner organisation in Guatemala, CEIBA, Peace Boat decided to donate the funds to support the Ixwuihuila community, a rural area with only a narrow road meaning access is very limited. The community has a population of 180 women, 170 men and 175 children, and 58 of the 63 families were affected, with some houses totally destroyed. The elementary school was used as an evacuation center, however relief supplies did not arrive till late, and those items which did arrive did not match well with the needs of survivors. With the hope of supporting the affected families to be able to return to their homes as soon as possible, the funds raised onboard Peace Boat will be directed to materials to repair housing damage such as tiles, wood, building materials and cement. Peace Boat also would also like to extend our most sincere support to CEIBA for their hard working, continuing efforts to rebuild the houses.

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CEIBA is a Guatemala-based organisation which works to support the meetings and exchange of ideas within rural communities, respect for traditions, integration of nature and the environment. Read more about their activities here.