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Fuego Eruption Update

[update as of June 14 | 3:30pm CST] 

Thank you to everyone who donated to help those in need after Volcán de Fuego’s eruption. Those donations to our Emergency Relief Fund will continue to be used to help relief efforts, both short and long term. We will continue to coordinate with the shelters and local NGOs to meet specific needs as they arise, and will also continue to address the everyday emergencies for those we serve. At this time, we will be suspending our relief campaign. Thank you again for your heartfelt generosity and support.

If you would like to make a donation to Common Hope, you can do so at

[update as of June 8 | 9:00am CST]

Yesterday we were able to deliver hygiene kits and other supplies to a shelter in the affected area. Supplies appear to be well stocked and we will continue to coordinate with local NGOs and shelters to fulfill needs as they arise.

[update as of June 7 | 1:30pm CST] 

Many of you are following the news accounts this week on the recovery efforts in Guatemala after Fuego’s eruption on Sunday. Thank you for your heartfelt messages – we are sharing them with our colleagues in Guatemala so they can feel the spirit of support that surrounds them from this amazing Common Hope family.

We are actively working with other nonprofit organizations to best understand how we can coordinate our support of relief to affected communities. At this time the immediate needs are being met through generous support from across the country, including organizations like ours. We anticipate the need to be greater following the immediate recovery. For this reason, we are not collecting general supplies for the relief efforts, and instead will focus on cash donations that can be used for immediate or longer term emergency needs for families.

Direct relief: On Tuesday morning Rebecca hosted colleagues from 12 nonprofits that all work in the Antigua area to collaborate and coordinate our efforts to best support immediate relief efforts for those affected, and to share with each other additional needs as they arise. We are centralizing our support, and agree that there are greater mid and longer term needs that will need to be addressed after the initial rush of relief is past.

Two organizations work directly in the area impacted, and they are coordinating needs from the shelters that we cannot reach. Yesterday they requested 150 personal hygiene kits for families in the shelter. We’re putting those kits together this morning (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, towels, toilet paper and combs/brushes) and will deliver them today.

When our staff delivered boots and water yesterday to the recovery crews they were clear that at this time they did not want any volunteer support. We do not plan on providing volunteers, but will focus on continuing to respond to material needs as they are identified. Our NGO network will meet again on Monday.

Other efforts: During this tragedy we are reminded of the need for our programs in Guatemala. There is a correlation between those affected most by this disaster and poverty. Our mission to fight poverty by educating children, empowering families, and providing a safe, stable, and healthy place for all to learn and grow is even more important during times like this. Our commitment to the families we serve is to be a stable, consistent partner in their efforts to build better lives for themselves. As such our programs have resumed in all communities – Antigua, San Rafael, San Miguel Milpas Altas and New Hope — and families and students are participating. A few examples of how we are working specifically to help our staff and families process events this week include:

  1. Dr. Walter provided our staff and social workers with information to share regarding best practices for minimizing the dust in the air and how it affects respiratory.

  2. Our psychology team worked with our Antigua social workers yesterday on how during their visits to best talk with families to help everyone process through this in a healthy way.

  3. We are monitoring the computer labs to ensure that kids are not watching horrific news on the internet. We are sharing videos instead that are content appropriate about the volcanic event to help families and kids understand.

Guatemala is expecting rains this weekend. Please keep the people of Guatemala in your thoughts and prayers – that the rains simply clean the ash from the trees and the crops, and are quickly followed by bright sunshine.

Putting together hygiene kits

All kits included 1 towel, 1 comb, 1 bar of soap, 10 shampoo packets, 2 tooth brushes, 1 tube of toothpaste, 2 rolls of toilet paper

[update as of June 5 | 5:30pm CST] 

The team was able to deliver supplies to Alotenango this afternoon. They delivered undergarments for men, women, and children among other clothing needs. They were also able to provide boots to the rescue workers whose boots are melting due to the high heat.

Delivering supplies in Alotenango

[update as of June 5 | 10:30am CST]

Thank you for your heartfelt prayers and wishes for our staff and families in Guatemala, and for all those who have been affected by Fuego’s eruption. We’ve received so many beautiful notes from you over the past two days. Last night we forwarded a compilation of them to our team in Guatemala. They were a bright spot in an otherwise gray day, so thank you for keeping everyone in Guatemala in your thoughts and prayers.

Yesterday was a day for us to assess where we were at, and to prepare for normal operations to fully support our families. Things look pretty normal inside the Antigua Family Development Center – a big difference from yesterday when our staff was cleaning up (see photos below). Outside, however, it is dusty and the air quality remains an issue. Cleanup is everyone’s major focus right now, and there is good progress being made in the area.

Cleanup at our Family Development Center

Sweeping ash at our Family Development Center

  1. Yesterday we were able to purchase goggles and extra masks for our staff to use as they cleaned the Antigua site. They were able to fully sweep out the ash, and our maintenance crew completed cleaning the rooftop of the ballcourt late yesterday.

  2. The areas of greatest impact are nearby, but are outside of our current service area. We were able to meet with the leaders of the closest shelter in Alotenango yesterday, where there are 317 men, women and children staying. Their greatest needs were for medicines and clean undergarments. Pablo Cermeno was able to purchase new clothing in Guatemala City yesterday, our hospitality team purchased used clothing and is washing it this morning, and Dr. Walter is preparing the medicines so we will be delivering those later today.

  3. Our social work and sponsorship departments in Antigua attended to families who either called or came to the project site

Today we resumed normal operations in Antigua, and expect to hold our programming as usual. In addition:

  1. Our social workers are back out in the villages, and we will have more information for how our families are doing at home in the Antigua, San Rafael, and San Miguel Milpas Altas areas by the end of the day.

  2. A group of NGO’s is meeting this morning at the Antigua site to compare what we are seeing in the area and determine how we can work together to meet the greatest needs.

  3. We will send staff out to the shelter we visited yesterday, and will attempt to reach other shelters to check with their needs as well.

We had some questions regarding where the path of the volcano was in relation to where we are at, so the following map shows where Alotenango is in relation to where we are located. The areas of greatest impact are nearby, but are outside of our current service area. The worst of the impact was from Alotenango and beyond towards the coast, which you can see in the following maps.

  1. Our Family Development Center in Antigua

  2. San Miguel Milpas Altas

  3. San Rafael el Arado

  4. Towards New Hope site

Some general information:

  1. The airport re-opened yesterday, so travel in and out of Guatemala has resumed.

  2. Schools are closed throughout the area through this week.

If you’d like to donate to the continued relief efforts, you can do so at our Volcán de Fuego Relief Page.

Additional Information:

[update as of June 4, 2018 | 3:00pm CST]

Reports now indicate that the airport in Guatemala City has reopened.

[update as of June 4, 2018 | 11:30am CST]

On Sunday morning (June 3) Volcán de Fuego erupted producing a significant volcanic ash storm and lava flow. The eruption has closed the airport and caused visibility and safety issues due to slippery roads of rain/ash mix. For those directly in its path, there has been many injuries, lives lost and significant destruction. We understand the situation in Guatemala to be extremely difficult and our hearts are with all those affected by this tragedy. At this time, we are grateful there has not been report of any incidents to families or staff of Common Hope. We continue to assess the situation in the communities where we work and will share updates as they come.

Here is what we know:

  1. Our Emergency Response Team is in place and has been assessing the situation since yesterday.

  2. We have followed up with all Common Hope families located in the Alotenango area, and they are safe but shaken. This is the closest area we serve to the path of the ash.

  3. We have received no reports of any incidents to other Common Hope families or staff

  4. We have response team members visiting shelters in the area to determine how we can support their efforts, and will know more later today.

Our Antigua Site is open to receive families but with limited services

  1. We are initially focused on cleaning the site thoroughly of ash so we can resume normal activities. We need to purchases additional face masks, goggles, and garbage bags.

  2. Our clinic is open with limited staff

  3. Our social work and sponsorship departments are open and receiving families

  4. Our youth programming, library, and daycare are not open today. We will reassess later today for tomorrow and the rest of the week.

  5. New Hope is largely unaffected.

We do not know the full extent of how the eruption will impact our families and staff in the coming days. We do know that there will be on-going cleanup in the days and weeks following. We also know that the air quality is currently an issue. The CDC is advising the use of face masks, especially for those with lung conditions.

We know many of you want to help. As a partner in the community, our Emergency Response Team is visiting local shelters in the affected areas to determine what their greatest needs are and how we can best support the relief efforts over the coming days and possibly weeks. Major corporations have already stepped up to provide food and water, so we anticipate the immediate needs to be more related to clean up efforts. If you’d like to donate to our Emergency Relief Fund to support any relief efforts, you can do so here. At this time we are only anticipating help with cleanup and possibly support for the shelters. As that becomes more clear we will share an update.

For those of you with travel plans in the near term, we will contact you directly.

The situation is constantly changing. Please check back for continued updates as more information becomes available.

Additional Information:

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