All Hands and Hearts launched a remote assessment immediately after Hurricanes Eta and Iota made landfall in November 2020. Based on our findings and the varying COVID-19 situation in the region, we transitioned to a ground assessment in Guatemala at the end of January 2021 to explore how we could contribute to the recovery effort. After months of hard work from our Disaster Assessment and Response Team (DART) who spent time meeting with local community members in the Alta Verapaz region to assess the needs and understand what role AHAH could play, we’re pleased to announce the launch of our Guatemala Hurricane Relief Program.
Access to a sufficient water supply was highlighted as one of the highest needs in the communities being assessed, thus our team of staff and DM12 volunteers will begin ground up construction on a community center with the associated water, sanitation and hygiene(WaSH) facilities which include latrines and water storage for the community of Sesajal, San Pedro Carchá. We will also construct additional rainwater catchment and storage stations in the nearby community of Seraxqen, Chisec, to increase the communities’ access to water.
This is our first relief program in Guatemala, and we are incredibly pleased to be able to expand our international reach and extend our support to the affected communities of Sesajal and Seraxqen.
Progress is going well at our two sites in Sesajal and Seraxqen, despite challenges with heavy rains and damaged roads. After a groundbreaking event in Sesajal with the Mayor of San Pedro Carcha, the volunteers have been busy digging and bending rebar in preparation for pouring the concrete foundations of the new community center. The pit for the latrines is almost finished, and local workers have been setting the formwork for the kitchen. In Seraxqen, where we’re constructing additional rainwater catchment and storage stations, we’re pleased to share that the team is working ahead of schedule.
Off site, our team has created a recycling and organic waste system at our base of operations after a recent visit to the local waste facility. This will help to reduce our waste impact on the local community.
“My name is Ernesto Tiul Coc; I have four positions in this community and region of Sesajal, including being the leader of the Community Development Council and President of the Local Government Unit. Everything that has happened in the two hurricanes last year, it affected us a lot because we have never experienced something like that, so we did not know what to do and how to react to hurricanes. Now we are learning how to protect the lives of the people in our community. And thanks to the All Hands and Hearts organization, a community center is being built that will serve as a shelter if a flood should happen again. As we have already experienced, the community center will also serve for us to receive training.
Thanks for all the support! Sesajal now looks more beautiful, we are very happy and thanks to all the people from different parts of the world who are working here for us” – Ernesto Tiul, local community leader.
“[I’m looking forward to] meeting the community, learning about their story and seeing with our own eyes what’s the impact of our work and how we contribute bringing back their lives before the disaster” – Gabi, DM12 Volunteer
In November 2020, Hurricane Eta and Hurricane Iota, both Category 4 storms, devastated communities across Central America. First, Hurricane Eta struck on November 3 and slowly moved across northern Nicaragua and into eastern Honduras, before continuing its path into northeastern Guatemala and the Caribbean on November 6. Just 15 miles away from Eta’s landfall, near Haulover, Iota then struck on November 17 and followed a similar path. Both storms led to significant flooding and landslides across the region, impacting millions of people.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was historically active, with Iota bringing the season’s count to 30 named storms, the most ever recorded.
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