CORONA VIRUS IN GUATEMALA
Guatemala, like most of the world, is dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. Among the restrictions in place are travel limitations, social distancing rules, a curfew, and strict guidance on how, where, and what type of businesses can stay open, with many closed.
As you might expect, hunger and food delivery have proven difficult to manage in the poorer areas of the country. Our neighborhoods are among the worst affected. That is why we will focus on food relief until this crisis is over. Here are some of the details.
First and foremost, let us add our thanks and prayers for all the workers who continue to face down this disease every day.
Grocery workers, drug delivery folks, garbage collectors, water delivery, gas station attendants, and even the folks delivering pizza and other restaurant meals deserve a raise.
And of course, we pray hard for the medical and emergency workers. We have family and friends working in hospitals in the US and Guatemala. They all tell us how hospitals need to compromise their personal safety standards to assure patient care continues... and they still report to work every day.
God bless all the folks risking illness to help their neighbors.
La Cuchilla and La Isla (Feeding Programs and Women's Ministry)
Many Guatemalan families move back to their home bases during a crisis. This might be for protection, to save rent money, or to pool their resources.
Our neighborhoods consist of mostly Mayan families, many with roots outside the city.
Sure enough, some folks left the La Cuchila and La Isla areas. However, other families got bigger as siblings returned to their parents´ home.
Church elders, our women´s ministry, and other partners provide us with the latest information about who is affected by job loss, who is sick, who is struggling financially or food-wise, and other issues complicating life.
Being in the poorest neighborhoods has some advantages. The government has delivered boxes of food to both areas. Other groups that are popping up or changing operations to deal with food are also likely to be referred to La Cuchilla or La Isla.
However, they all tend to deliver little beyond basic staples. That is why Misioneros Cristianos Unidos and A Couple of Christians look deeper.
Like our volcano response, our Covid-19 disaster work will be a little different. It will be aimed at plugging holes and supplementing the efforts of others.
We will carry the staples to distribute when needed, but we will also carry other important items the families might not have.
We might provide vegetables, fruit, pure water, and drinks, for example.
Or we might find more people like the family we met last week. They had a shelf full of rice and beans. But they had no propane to cook with.
This is the type of thing we look for. Because families should live, not just survive.
Our Mission and Goal
Our mission is to spread God's love through His Word, through our words, through our works, and with His help. Our goal is to help people get through acute and chronic crises by introducing (or reminding) them of the Hope and Love Jesus offers.
JESUS IS ESSENTIAL...
AND HE IS ON THE JOB!
La Naranja, Cocales (Youth Church)
Half the families of our children in the Cocales Youth Church lost their income during the Covid-19 crisis, as did the pastoral family.
Pastora Ana started making and selling french fries and other snacks to generate some money for food.
As hungry and bored children started showing up at the church, she recruited them to help with the snacks.
In return, Ana feeds all 25 of her little helpers every day. She also delivers some of her snacks at the homes of elderly and unemployed neighbors.
We are blessed to help support this new initiative as part of our food program.
Rural Outreach in Pamamus (School)
All schools in Guatemala are closed indefinitely. When last we spoke to the principal of the Pamamus School, he told us teachers are still being paid and doing their best to keep in touch with the students.
The majority of parents work in farming-related jobs. We suspect they are still working as that is an industry not affected by many new regulations. We remain in touch.
El Rodeo, Escuintla (Volcano Survivors)
Our group of Volcano Fuego survivors continues to struggle almost two years after the eruption. The precious few job opportunities that existed have mostly disappeared.
It is difficult to travel to El Rodeo right now due to local roadblocks and government restrictions.
Fortunately, there is a well-organized effort to help Fuego victims through this event. We are in contact with them to provide fortified soups and other assistance. We continue to seek other ways we can help keep these folks fed.
TOP ROW 1: Yesenia and Pat talking to the children in Pamamus in March. Within a week, travel restrictions and school closures went into effect. Photo 2: Yesenia praying with women from Santa Fe. We distributed 20 bags of groceries and 20 bags of produce to families of our feeding program kids of La Isla. Photo 3: On the roads, people hold white flags signaling they need food or assistance. Here, we share tomatoes, onions, peppers, and carrots with two very grateful elderly men. Photo 4: Pamamus students flashing thank you hearts to our Spanish visitors after we celebrated Christmas in February.
SECOND ROW- Photo 1: Our kids are just so awesome. Photo 2: Sharing more vegetables with unfortunate folks affected by the Covid-19 crisis begging along the streets of Boca del Monte. Photo 3: Tamalitos de Chipilin- one of the snacks Ana and the kids of Cocales make every day. Items like tamalitos and tortillas are usually side items to a meal; but during this crisis, they are the main course for many families. Photo 4: Part of our La Cuchilla neighborhood.
LEFT: Pickup loaded with green bags of groceries and white bags of fruits and vegetables destined for poor families around Guatemala.
Watch for more photos of our Covid-19 Emergency food Program.