Having survived a powerful earthquake, thousands of homeless children in isolated villages in south-west Guatemala are now facing uncertainty.
“Boys and girls are affected by many problems: the cold, the hunger, the uncertainty about what will happen. Plan has moved very quickly to reach the most remote and least protected,” says Débora Cóbar, Country Director of Plan Guatemala.
Many people living in these remote farming villages, which are difficult to reach, are now sheltering in churches and schools. But these buildings were damaged in the earthquake and don’t provide adequate protection against the cold. Temperatures in the municipality of San Juan Ostuncalco are dropping as low as zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).These families are expected to be in shelters for about three months.
Sense of security
Fernando Fuentes, of a local support organisation adds, "The infrastructure has been badly damaged, water systems collapsed and there are many houses that are virtually uninhabitable. Families are distressed because they don’t know if they will have a home to live in the near future.
“The Government has provided mattresses and blankets, but they have distributed only one per family and families here have as many as 8 to 10 children.”
Plan Guatemala is providing emergency food supplies, consisting of beans, rice, water, corn flour and a high-nutrition beverage, and other items including mattresses, blankets, hygiene and cleaning kits, rubbish bins and bags, and tools to clear rubble.
Children’s lives have been turned upside down and many have lost their sense of security and stability. Nine-year old Andrés who is now living in a church and using a pew as his bed says, "I want to go home, but my mummy says we don’t have a house anymore, that we will have to wait to here until she could build another."
Plan is providing psychosocial support to address the emotional needs of the children as well as supporting the long term recovery. “Our damage and needs assessment report has revealed that local authorities have not been trained in disaster risk management and lack the skills to assume an effective role in emergencies. Our support to this municipality will include the training of the Community Development Councils in child protection and disaster risk management.”
Find out more about our work in Guatemala.