Updates on Support to Communities affected by the Mt. Fuego Volcanic Eruption in Guatemala
On June 3, 2018, the volcano Mt. Fuego in Guatemala erupted and caused catastrophic damage to the surrounding areas, including the loss of lives. Our partner organization in the country, MINNASAN, which works for poverty reduction and provision of learning opportunities for children, contacted us to seek assistance. Shortly after this communication, the Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV) decided to support the people affected by the eruption, and launched a fundraising project to assist the relief efforts conducted by MINNASAN.
Here is a summary report from our partner, MINNASAN.
The eruption of Mt. Fuego in June of this year affected thousands of people. Thanks to the support we received from Peace Boat, we were able to save about 40 families, delivering food, hygienic kits, clothes, shoes, etc.
By August these families had almost no belongings, as emergency support was not provided by the government to those people not in public shelters. The situation has calmed down in the months since. However, many people, including children, are suffering from trauma because of what had happened. Children who were forced to move out of their community are finding it difficult to cope with their new lives, with interruptions to their study and difficulties in adapting to other educational centers.
With the financial support from Peace Boat, we plan to implement:
– Psychological care for people in need, both adults and children. Taking advantage of our experience, school reinforcement activities will be supported for children.
– Scholarship support to children for the next school year.
These projects are expected to benefit 40 families (psychological care), 60 children (education support), and 20 students (scholarships) from October 2018 to October 2019.
Phase One: Psychological care + School reinforcement
The project aims to mitigate children’s pain and trauma caused by the tragedy and at the same time, to support children in preparing themselves for the next school year (starting January 2019).
Phase Two: Scholarship support for students
During Phase One, 20 children most in need will be selected and supported to continue their schooling. The scholarship contribution will be delivered every two months and the progress of each student will be monitored. The progress will also be reported periodically to Japan.
A preliminary visit was made at the beginning of September to a site where affected people are temporarily living, to provide the necessary items. They told us that children suffer when they see a dark cloud through the volcano, and that sometimes at night, they cry in fear. They also told us that the children are finding it difficult to restart attending school, because of what happened and also because of the change in school.
Cover page photo: Family evacuated in a shelter in a primary school classroom. This lady gave birth to a baby just two days after the eruption. Photo: Joel Dardon