Special Report From Rachel’s Desk to Yours

When a disaster like the June 3rd eruption of Volcan Fuego strikes, the government, aid agencies and volunteers quickly respond to help with rescue, recovery and relief efforts. 

In the immediate aftermath, priority is given to the most affected victims at “ground zero”. In this case, ground zero is defined as the areas catastrophically hit by lava and ash. Relief and recovery efforts have continued at ground zero since June 3rd. The Government of Guatemala is coordinating the efforts, as we expected, with many agencies and supplies flooding into the area to aid the victims of this devastating disaster. 


But we often forget there are other victims beyond the focal point who are left unattended.  

HRI has received reports of small villages and towns that have been impacted but have not received the aid they need! Desperate people who need aid, but are considered lower priority, are left struggling. Whole communities are facing serious challenges due to the ripple effect of the eruption –  ash, toxic vapors, contaminated water and more.


Thankfully, HRI IS HERE on the ground, further out from the epicenter of the destruction, caring for the suffering. Thanks to a small group of partners, we are ready to act with specific and targeted support for the longer-term needs of these vulnerable people. 


Over the past few weeks, a team of HRI volunteers visited shelters regularly to offer their support for various immediate needs. They also led activities to help lift the spirits of affected children and families, bringing smiles back to the children and hope to the families.


Last week, HRI hosted a training with local firefighters in Cuilapa. Our program taught how to administer first-aid, including what to do if an injury includes a broken bone.


Our trainees even learned how to temporarily set fractures, until professional help arrives on the scene. Just DAYS later, the newly learned skills were put into action when two men fell from a hanging bridge 20 feet above ground!


Two women who had attended HRI’s first-aid training earlier that week immediately ran to assist these men who were in severe distress. When the women arrived on the scene, they found two victims. One of the men sadly died from the blunt force trauma. The second man was still alive, albeit, in critical condition. He had sustained multiple fractures. The women were quickly able to stabilize the fractures of the second victim long enough to get him professional medical help. 


These two women saved the man’s life thanks to a training HRI hosted only days prior to the tragic accident. These women started their week as mothers taking care of their children and ended it as heroes saving a life. 


Because you gave, we were there together. Because we were there, this man is alive and recovering. 


THANK YOU for bringing life-saving aid, smiles and hope to families in need! 


THANK YOU for helping the forgotten victims of this catastrophe!


THANK YOU for responding to crisis, building resilience and creating opportunities for children and families in Guatemala and Haiti! 


Together, HRI IS HERE!


With immense gratitude,

Rachel Zelon
HRI President & CEO


P.S. With your continued partnership, we can do so much more. Please click here to give. Write “volcano relief” or otherwise in the comments to designate your gift, or leave it blank for us to use “where needed most”.


P.S.S. We will provide additional updates and reports from the field often, so check back soon and make sure you follow HRI regularly on Twitter and/or Facebook.


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