As my look into Guatemalan culture nears its end, I thought it would be fitting to use my final Guatemalan blog as a means for drawing attention to the needs of the country and providing readers with a chance to help with a disaster that occurred early this month which received little attention in the American media because of the elections and Hurricane Sandy.
On November 7, 2012, Guatemala experienced a 7.4 magnitude earthquake that, according to the BBC, was “…the biggest tremor in Guatemala since 1976, when 25,000 people died in a 7.5-magnitude quake.” The quake was felt throughout the region reaching as far as San Salvador and Mexico City with aftershocks registering at magnitude 5. It has killed at least 50 people, caused hundreds of injuries and left thousands either without electricity or homeless entirely.
As it is so often the case, those who have been hit the hardest are the poorest families. Those who lived in rural farming villages are now either out on the streets or living in shelters. Reuters AlertNet estimates that this will continue to be the case for at least three months based on the word of Fernando Fuentes, of NGO CENACIDE, who said, “The infrastructure has been badly damaged, water systems collapsed and there are many houses that are virtually uninhabitable. Families have a lot of anguish because they don’t know if they will have a home to live in the near future.”
Here is a news clip to better illustrate the destruction:
A Google search reveals several aid groups that claim to be helping with Guatemalan relief efforts, but as I’ve seen before following the Haiti Earthquake in 2010, the Internet is full of scammers, and you shouldn’t give money to just any group without research.
Personally, when I want to contribute to disaster relief, I typically go through the Red Cross because of their reputation, prompt response to disaster, training of their volunteers, and the convenient methods for donation. After the earthquake in Guatemala, the Red Cross immediately sent over 1000 trained volunteers with blankets, food, and water filters, many of whom with the skill to provide much-needed trauma care for the injured.
If you’re interested in donating to the Red Cross’s disaster relief efforts, click here. The money will not only go toward helping Guatemala, but it will provide assistance for those affected by disasters worldwide. It’s something to think about with Christmas, the season of giving, just around the corner.