PHILADELPHIA (November 11, 2020) Last week, thousands of people in Northeast Guatemala lost their houses and crops to catastrophic flooding when Hurricane Eta devastated the area. The hurricane follows a brutal storm season, hitting a community already facing the dangers posed by armed groups and the increasing spread of COVID-19. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) -- a Quaker organization that has been in Guatemala supporting local peacebuilding and migration work for more than a decade -- is launching a special fundraising appeal to help provide food, clean water, warm clothing and safety kits for people living in temporary shelters.
"Because of our relationship with grassroots groups in the country, we are in a position to help local communities and our partners provide emergency response and move toward a more sustainable future," said Luis Paiz Bekker, AFSC's Latin America & the Caribbean Regional Director. "We are deeply humbled by the tireless efforts of our staff and partners to keep our communities safe during these intersecting crises, and we are calling on supporters to help sustain this vital work."
AFSC plans to work with local partners to deliver food, warm clothing, and hygiene supplies to shelters in San Pedro Caracha, San Cristabal Verapaz, Cubilguitz, San Jose el Tesoro, and Tactic, bringing aid to more than 1000 displaced people. These communities are in the Department of Alta Verapaz, which is not only one of the most affected areas, but it is also an area where fewer grassroots and international groups are working.
"Some communities are still underwater, and people have been forced to evacuate to shelters, where the risk of COVID-19 is higher," said Kerri Kennedy, Associate General Secretary for AFSC's International Programs. "As the world's attention has been captured by the presidential elections, it is critically important that we do not forget those who have lost their lives and livelihoods to this disaster."
Learn more about AFSC's work in Guatemala: https://www.afsc.org/office/guatemala