On Sunday June 3rd, Volcano Fuego, located 25 miles Southwest of Guatemala City, had a massive eruption that has caused untold damage and taken many lives. This eruption has affected more than 1,700,000 people in the departments of Escuintla, Suchitepéquez and Chimaltenango.
Friendship Bridge serves over 2,400 clients in the regions that were affected by the eruption, and 477 clients in the municipalities of Yepocapa and Alotenango that were directly hit. We are relieved to announce that all of our staff, clients, and their families are safe and accounted for. Due to current heavy rains that are forecasted to last through the weekend, as well as continuous ash fall, there is a high health risk in these regions for respiratory issues, flash floods, and further eruptions. We have supplied our field staff with proper respiratory equipment for their safety as they continue to assess the damage and serve our clients.
Our clients in Yepocapa and Alotenango are experiencing major losses in their businesses. We are currently working to see how we can support these clients further to alleviate this financial hardship.
As many of you know, the people of Guatemala are an inspiration in how they treat community members as family through support and friendship. Their society is deeply rooted in this communal mindset. Therefore, it’s not surprising that our staff in Guatemala immediately mobilized to create relief efforts on the ground. With their personal resources, they are purchasing supplies and delivering them to local shelters that are housing victims of the eruption. Many local staff will be volunteering their time at these shelters, as well. However, because Friendship Bridge is not a relief organization we encourage donations be sent to aid organizations with solid reputations that get the necessary funds and supplies into the hands that need them most. If you would like to donate to the relief efforts, please read this article by PBS which lists several options of well-vetted organizations. We will continue to vet aid organizations. Please follow us on social media to stay up-to-date.
Thank you so much for the countless emails and calls we have received in concern of our staff and clients. In difficult times like these, I never fail to be inspired from the outpouring of support by our international community. We will continue to keep you updated on the relief efforts.
President and CEO