RETURN TO RELIEF MISSIONS
GUATEMALA VOLCANO | 2018
Guatemala was struck by a major disaster on June 3, 2018 when Volcano de Fuego, which lies about 40 miles southwest of Guatemala City, erupted. A deadly mixture of ash, rock fragments and hot gases rushed down ravines and stream channels on the sides of the volcano. This is affecting over 1.7 million people and there are casualties everywhere.
Within 24 hours of the eruption, Global Empowerment Mission spearheaded a mission to Guatemala for a recon and aid delivery mission. We brought Lourdes Sanchez from Badges of Honor, along with our GEM executive board member Alison Thompson, founder of Third Wave Volunteers. Our first stop was at the nation’s disaster agency, Conred, where we were hosted by former Secretary of State and Minster of Economy Luis Velasquez. After our intel briefings, our #thisisacrisis teams, GEM, Third Wave Volunteers and Badges of Honor surveyed affected areas in the volcano eruptions hot-zone perimeter. We handed out over 1,500 respiratory masks on our approach to ground zero.
When we arrived at ground zero we were in awe. Hiroshima was the word that came to mind. Try and imagine that only a few days ago over 300 families lived in a village where this hell pit now lies. We spoke to neighbors who said there wasn’t any warning or time. By the time you saw the eruption particles, you became the particles. Everything melted to this. The neighbors have never seen their friends and family again.
GEM purchased local aid at the Walmart in Guatemala City with our supporters’ kind donations. This saves time and ends up costing less than sending containers over. Our aid was distributed to various refugee camps on our first mission within 48 hours of the eruption. The video on NBC Nightly News highlights our first mission.
During our second mission, we donated cash cards, from a grant from our partner #Bstrong/Delivering Good, to local communities. Bethenny Frankel joined us this week, and her generosity and stamina were incredibly beneficial.
Our third mission involved #thisisacrisis teams, Third Wave Volunteers and another partner org, Motorrad Angels, set out to deliver a truck of aid to a very remote region approximately 4 towns from ground zero. This town called Chuchu, in the Escuintla region of Guatemala, was pretty much inaccessible to most teams. We were fortunate to have a team of expert bikers (with very serious equipment) escort our truck of supplies to Chuchu. When we arrived after a 5 hour journey through rugged lands and rivers, we were welcomed with such love and gratitude from the villagers. Please see detailed pictures and videos on our GEM Facebook page.
The National Volcanic Activity Detection System is ruined due to this, so the people in nearby villages will have no warning if anything happens again.
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