Just like every weekday morning, Miro and I awoke early to the sound of my phone alarm ringing, jolting us out of bed. Our usual routine consists of dragging our bodies out of bed, zombie-walking down the stairs, eating yogurt & granola, dressing and then shuffling out the door to catch the white commuter shuttle to school. Only this morning, there was no shuttle bus as all the schools in Guatemala remain closed for the week while the country tries to restore, repair and reunite in the aftermath of tropical storm Agatha. This morning we performed the same morning rituals with a different intention. Miro and I were up early in order to help the people who live in the country that has so graciously been hosting us for the past six months. In particular, the men, women and children that live in a nearby village called San Miguel Escobar which was devastated by the storm.
At 9:00 a group of volunteers met at Y Tu Pina Tambien, our local hippy-cappuccino hangout. Miro and I were as prepared as we could be, both wearing long pants, hiking boots, hats and heavy sunscreen coating our noses. We were told we would be purchasing the necessary items before we got on the shuttle to San Miguel Escobar for our volunteer shift. Rubber boots, rubber gloves and masks were all vital to preserving our health.
As the group of sixteen volunteers waited for the shuttle, we were told by Hugo, one of the volunteer organizers, that Miro was not allowed to go. I know this man socially, as he manages our favorite sushi restaurant in town, the very same place Miro and I celebrated his birthday dinner in April.
Every time we see Hugo, he is always smiling and his friendly disposition is always warm and welcoming. Today his expression was dramatically different, transformed to a combination of serious and concerned with a trace of overwhelmed. Away from the converging group, he said to me that it was too dangerous for Miro to be there, that the danger was the possibility of cholera and typhoid outbreaks and exposure to any number of respiratory infections. He continued to tell me about a volunteer yesterday uncovering a deceased woman and dog while shoveling through several feet of mud. He could not and would not guarantee there weren’t more corpses to be uncovered. Hugo went on to explain that the village was under several feet of mud and the mud was a combination of the hillside debris and the raw sewage. In other words, the group would be literally shoveling out “shit”.
As a parent, of course I don’t want to expose my child to danger or health risks that will effect his well being. As a world citizen I wonder how the children in the village are handling the same thing I have the ability to choose to shield my child from. I want to help, but it was clear, today my help will not be on site. Today, I am helping by sharing what’s going on with people around the world and asking for your help.
Here’s a short video of what San Miguel Escobar looked like yesterday.
The non-profit organization Green As it Gets is collecting donations on their site and are organizing relief in the field as we speak. They are accepting any amount, $5, $10, $100, whatever you can afford. (This is the link to donate) Seriously, $5 will go a long way to help the villagers in San Miguel Escobar. It’s important to know the donation go directly to the people. This is taken directly from the Green as it Gets site:
Donations Urgently Needed – Tropical Storm Agatha has hit San Miguel Escobar – Farmers Affected
At least 16 people in Central America are dead in the wake of Tropical Storm Agatha, and heavy rain continues to fall throughout the region, Authorities in Guatemala have reported 13 people dead and least 24 missing.
Agatha on Saturday hit the Guatemalan coast near the border with Mexico. It’s the first named storm of the 2010 Pacific hurricane season. Homes in town and cities have been buried by mudslides as a result of bursting river banks. There is also concern about Guatemala’s coffee crop. The country is the largest producer of coffee in the region.
This storm has affected many of the people in the town of San Miguel Escobar and in particular one of our farmers house was entirely flooded with a mudslides and has lost everything.
Vincente Minas has three cuerdas of land planted to coffee. He has been working in coffee for six years and also cultivates beans, corn and flowers.
Vincente is 38 years old and has been married to his wife, Catarina, for 17 years. Catarina and Vincente have five children: Esvin, Byron, Brenda, Aurelio and Oscar. The family horse, Canche, helps carry produce from Vincente’s field on the volcano down to their family home in the village of San Miguel Escobar.
The rain caused a mudslide to course through his house causing the family to lose all of their personal possessions, furniture and clothing.
Farmers and As Green As It Gets Volunteers are on the scene helping with the clean up but we desperately need donations to help Vincente and other villages repair their homes and purchase new clothing, bedding and furniture. Even tents would be welcome at this point, anything to provide shelter away from the mud.