Adventists, National TV Station
Unite to Help Disaster Victims
Guatemala hit by earthquakes, tropical storms, prolonged rains.
BY INTER-AMERICAN DIVISION NEWS
he Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Guatemala completed a two-week campaign in partnership with Guatevision, a national television station, to collect and distribute more than 86,500 pounds of relief supplies to the thousands of people affected by the recent earthquakes, tropical storms, and prolonged rains. The Central American country experienced overflowing rivers and destroyed bridges and homes resulting from these natural disasters.
So far ADRA has distributed 1,700 food bags made up of rice, beans, cornmeal, oil, sugar, and other food items, as well as 500 25-pound bags of clothes, 510 gallons of water, and 1,300 hygiene kits benefiting more than 8,000 people in the 24 affected communities in Chimaltenango, Escuintla, and Santa Rosa from October 21 to November 6, 2011.
ADRA Guatemala initially invested $20,000 to purchase 33,000 pounds of food, and sought Guatevision’s assistance to further the impact of those affected, said Gustavo Menendez, ADRA Guatemala director.
“This crisis has opened the doors for other companies and institutions of high prestige to channel their donations through ADRA Guatemala to help thousands of affected persons,” Menendez said.
“Our alliance with Guatevision has allowed us to reach thousands more homes to appeal for donated goods,” said Menendez. “To see how the church’s organization in service to humanity has aided the needy regardless of race, creed or social status.”
Young people from dozens of churches in Guatemala City worked 14-hour days for 14 days to assemble and distribute the food bags to disaster shelters and affected communities.
Guenther Garcia, president of the church in Guatemala, said the church has always been happy to use church member volunteers to partner with ADRA in aiding in the midst of disaster.
“Through the Inter-American Division and the union, we are gathering some $100,000 in funds to help the most affected in Guatemala,” said Garcia. He reported that some 100 families were affected and that two churches were damaged.
“Many of our members lost their homes and their farms, but they have not lost the love of Jesus,” said Garcia. The church is currently activating some projects to help Adventist families as well, according to Garcia.
ADRA International, ADRA Inter-America, and ADRA Guatemala initially donated $20,000 that went toward the purchase of the food items, said Menendez, who has been overseeing the packaging and distributing goods in dozens of shelters and communities and villages.
“We have been in communities like Caserio Las Animas in Santa Rosa, where people had to cross a rope over turbulent river waters to get their sack of food,” said Menendez. “Some walked 9.9 miles [16 kilometers] in mountainous terrain to get to our ADRA truck.” Menendez said he also witnessed a woman jump into the rough river to swim 54 yards (50 meters) to save her neighbor’s food sack, which had fallen into the water.
Teofila Hernandez, a mother of eight from the San Jose community, said her home had collapsed because of the earthquakes.
“No one had come to help us, and we are thankful to you and everyone who remembered us and helped supply for our needs,” said Hernandez, who still sleeps with her eight children in her dilapidated home.
Helping people like Hernandez is what motivated Marco Chavez of the Villalobos Seventh-day Adventist Church to volunteer after the disasters hit.
“Helping others is a priority, and we young people have the energy and willingness to collaborate in these times,” said Chavez, who was joined by other church friends who worked tirelessly to assemble sacks of food for distribution.
So far ADRA International has approved another $20,000 to assist in the purchase of food for those affected in San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán, and Petén. In the weeks ahead more assistance will make its way to the still homeless thousands in Guatemala, said Menendez.