Nov 17 2012

Assistance needed for affected families in Guatemala

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Friends, as many of you know, western Guatemala suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake last week (see our CFCA news report) that affected at least 80 of our sponsored friends and their families.

One sponsored child died during the quake, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. (We’re still trying to reach his sponsor, so weíre not able to publish his name yet.)

Others suffered partial or complete loss of their homes and belongings, especially as many of their houses were humbly built with adobe or mud rather than reinforced with concrete and steel.

These homes were less able to withstand the earthquake’s force and made the impact far more devastating. Many of these houses are destroyed or so unstable that remaining in them would be dangerous.

As our staffers in one community reported, a family was heartbroken because their house, which represented many years of work, was damaged in the quake. As a stopgap measure, they are cooking in the yard and sleeping in a small room that has cracks in two corners.

Our staff on the ground will continue to work closely with sponsored friends and their families to assess and monitor their needs. We’ll be using funds contributed to our disaster assistance fund to pay for repairing and rebuilding homes, replacing possessions lost in the quake, and any other support these families may need.

Please consider making a donation to our disaster assistance fund to help families affected by the quake. This will greatly help us in providing the assistance they need.

One hundred percent of donations to the fund are sent to our projects to be used where they’re most needed, as determined by CFCA and local project staffs in conversation with sponsored friends and their families.

Thanks so much, and we deeply appreciate your concern and support.

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Oct 17 2012

Living in an earthquake-prone area in Guatemala

Suriel-Ramirez-CFCA-staffer

Suriel Ramirez, CFCA social worker in Guatemala.

Sponsored friends who live in the Chiquimulilla region of Guatemala have experienced small, frequent earthquakes for many years. These quakes have affected their lives and the infrastructure.

Suriel Ramirez, CFCA social worker, has worked for CFCA for nearly 10 years. He shared these insights about the earthquakes that affect the area.

How is this area impacted by quakes?

Our town has always witnessed earthquakes ever since I can remember. Many of the earthquake epicenters surround the mountains in this area.

We are vulnerable because two fault lines cross our state. These tremors have gotten stronger and more frequent since June of 2011.

For some reason, maybe it’s a coincidence, we can feel the strongest quakes the middle of each month.

It is scary to witness these tremors. People are alarmed and rumors of great disaster keep us fearful.

How have these quakes affected the homes of families?

A great number of homes in this area are made of adobe. This type of structure is vulnerable to earthquakes. Walls made with adobe easily break and fall with even small earthquakes.

Walls made with cornstalks and mud are also weak and can easily collapse.

Concrete and cinderblock homes are the safest, but even these homes are in danger when a strong earthquake occurs. Read more

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Mar 28 2011

Japan earthquake affects Guatemalan coffee exports

Luis CocÛnLuis CocÛn, CFCA communications liaison in Guatemala, wrote to us recently about how the tragedy in Japan is affecting Guatemala’s foreign aid and coffee exports.

The consequences of the recent earthquake in Japan stretch far beyond its borders if you consider that Japan is one of the principal economic powers in the world.

In 2010, 15 percent of Guatemalaís total coffee production was exported to Japan, the second biggest market after the United States, according to the National Coffee Association of Guatemala.

These exports were valued at more than 300 million quetzals ($39.1 million).

Guatemala is home to more than 88,000 children, youth and elderly members sponsored through CFCA, the largest concentration of sponsored members among the 22 countries where CFCA works.

Many families in the CFCA program in Guatemala earn a living from coffee.

The impact doesnít just involve the coffee industry. In 2010, the Japanese government sent more than 600 million quetzals ($78.3 million) in foreign aid to Guatemala.

It is clear that things like coffee imports and aid to other countries such as Guatemala are not a priority for Japan. Its efforts understandably will be focused on recovery and reconstruction for quite some time.

Nevertheless, Guatemalan coffee cultivators are very uncertain and the Guatemalan people will surely be affected.

We hope for the best. More than anything, we pray for the complete and rapid recovery of the Japanese people.

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Mar 3 2010

Early report indicates no CFCA fatalities

An early report from staff members in Chile indicates that there have been no fatalities among sponsored members. Our staff will continue to assess the situation of families impacted by the quake and send a more detailed report at a later date.

The report also said that a day center where aging members ate breakfast and lunch and took handicraft and art workshops is uninhabitable. As a result, the sponsored elderly will receive their nutritional benefits at another location and all workshops have been postponed until a new location is identified.

And finally, Sara Leiva, the Valparaiso project coordinator, said that sponsors with friends in Chile should keep in mind that letters both in and out of the country will be delayed. Some letters may arrive late or coated with earthquake dust. For now, the staffís top priority is to assess and respond to the current needs of the families.

For more information, read the full news story on our website.

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Mar 1 2010

CFCA staff are fine

The following is an email sent Saturday evening by Sara Leiva, CFCA coordinator in CFCA Project Valparaiso, Chile, to Henry Flores, director of Communications Center in El Salvador, about her first impressions of the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile early Saturday morning.

Dear Henry,

Good afternoon. Thank you very much for sharing the worries and concerns of the CFCA community. We have power in some areas of Valparaiso, Chile, and I was able to send this email from my sister’s house.

It was 3:35 a.m., when the earthquake started. We are kind of used to this because Chile is an area with high possibilities of earthquakes; however, this earthquake kept going longer than usual. It was then when my husband, Luis, our son and I tried to secure ourselves in the safest section of our apartment.

The noise was terrible. In spite of having the lights off, they began turning on and off by themselves. Shortly after that, the power went off. From my home, you can usually see all of Valparaiso and ViÒa del Mar, but when I looked outside, everything was dark. The water was off, too. Everything was full of dust, and phones lines had collapsed.

Some time later, some of my CFCA colleagues started to phone me, because we could not call out. Praise God, they were fine. At this moment, I can say that my family is well, too. Praise God, the construction in Chile is strong and can withstand the full force of the earthquakes.

As soon as we had daylight, I went to the CFCA office. On my way to there, I saw some areas of Valparaiso. They are very affected because they are historical constructions and not as strong as present-day buildings. I saw houses collapsed and many destroyed walls. The CFCA office looks OK. When I entered, I saw everything on the floor, the walls have cracks and the place is full of dust.

One of the walls on the first floor have collapsed, and there was water coming out from somewhere. I contacted some firemen who were working in the area, and they helped me close it. The firemen told me that I needed to report the damages because some of the walls are loose and dangerous. They suggested that we evacuate the office building.

We immediately took the files and other important things to the houses of some of the staff members to keep them safe. We knew that in situations like this there is always a high risk of robbery. After that, I visited the house of some of the staff members: Luis Olivares, Olga and Mauricio. We need to contact a friend of ours who is an engineer to have him assess the damages we have in the office.

The most affected area is located south from Valparaiso, and at this moment, we are in alert of tsunamis. The islands in front of Valparaiso are being affected by the high waves.

Henry, we strongly believe that our CFCA families are very scared, without running water, power or communications, but we are hopeful that they are well. As soon as we receive more news, we will notify you. We hope to have a steadier channel of communication, because we wonít be able to go back to our office for some time.

Thank you for your concern. I will be in touch.

Sara

Read the news story

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Feb 27 2010

Walk2gether team aware of tsunami warnings

We received the following report this morning from Karen Allemang, the lead Walk2gether coordinator, about how Bob and the Walk2gether team are impacted by the tsunami warnings resulting from the 8.8 Chilean earthquake.

I called down to Nicaragua and spoke with Adolfo, who is with the walkers. He’s driving one of the vehicles and is the technical expert. The tsunami warning covers an extensive area including Central America. Aldolfo said that they had heard the news earlier this morning when they started walking. They are only 15 or 20 kilometers from the coast so they are keeping an ear to the news stations. They aren’t overly concerned for their safety, but are aware of the warning. I let him know that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center shows that a tsunami has been generated but doesn’t specify where in the Pacific. He sends greetings to all.

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Feb 3 2010

On the other side

Nelson Figueroa, Santo Domingo project coordinator, shares a Dominican’s view of the earthquake that struck their island.

As you know, our island was jolted by a strong earthquake that affected, above all, our neighboring country of Haiti, especially the city of Port-au-Prince. Seen from this side of the island, the panorama could not be much darker. The latent reality today is that all the hospitals in our country are filled beyond capacity with our injured Haitian brothers and sisters.

From the capital, Santo Domingo, to the border zone that is serving as a bridge for the arriving international help, the hospitals in our country are not only overflowing with patients, but they are also being filled with concerned relatives in search of information about their missing family members.

The day after the earthquake, in Santo Domingo, there was a collective sound of sirens coming in all directions from ambulances, carrying the injured to the health centers. Those with means flew by helicopter to the health center CEDIMART in Santo Domingo and the Metropolitan Hospital in the city of Santiago.

Our country felt the tremor, but it did not affect the physical structures as much as it did the family structures. Hundreds of families have not seen their family members return because many of the Haitian companies they worked for have collapsed. To cite an example, my oldest daughterís classmate lost her father. They heard him alive in the rubble, but he lost his life while they were trying to rescue him two days after the quake. It is estimated that there are hundreds of Dominicans who have died.

The tragedy affects the whole territory, and emotionally, we are all sorrowful. We do not escape the shadow of this catastrophe that has affected our neighbor.

In our territory there have been a variety of fundraising activities, and truthfully, solidarity has overflowed these days, which has helped to alleviate a little of the tension that has always existed between the two countries. People can now be seen hugging each other in pain, united by one cause, forgetting their differences and prioritizing the human being.

Tragedy makes us see that we are all children of the same God, and in our case, connected by a single territory, sharing the same island, and therefore we endure the same suffering. We live sheltered in the hope of ending our disagreements and uniting ourselves as brothers and sisters who share the same rays of the sun.

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