October 21 2005
Emergency relief in Central America continued after hurricane Stan
21/10/2005 - SOS Children's Villages is continuing its emergency relief efforts for the victims of hurricane Stan in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. The organisation makes use of its various facilities in the three countries to provide help to children from neighbouring communities directly.
The emergency relief measures in Mexico are focusing on providing help to the people from Motozintla. This village is located in one of Mexico's hardest-hit areas, parts of which are still without any connection to the outside world. The main river in the area grew 50 times its normal size. Flooding and mudslides in nearby hills have destroyed entire townships and 40% of the main village.
In close co-operation with the Human Development Institute (IDH; a government agency), SOS Children's Villages Mexico purchased blankets and cooking equipment and sent them, together with 200 kg of basic foodstuffs, clothes for children and women, diapers and cleaning products, by truck to Motozintla.
As various shelters set up by IDH together with the Mexican army will be torn down within the next days and weeks, SOS Children's Villages has offered to provide a shelter in SOS Children's Village Comitan (250 km away from Motozintla) if needed.
In Guatemala, the focus of relief measures by SOS Children's Villages is on the region of Retalhuleu, where 127 communities were affected, nine bridges and 74 schools were fully destroyed by hurricane Stan. Strong winter rains have continued and have again turned Samalá River into a threat for the city of Retalhuleu and the neighbouring towns.
20,000 people who had been temporarily sheltered at Retalhuleu city with assistance provided by SOS Children's Villages (supplying drinking water, food and blankets), have returned to their homes. Many of them found their places destroyed or heavily damaged, while their corn and sesame crops were also ripped off.
In continuing cooperation with CONRED (the national coordination office for disaster relief), food and drugs are being supplied to the most affected communities. 21 families who are left without any place to go have been identified as being in most urgent need of help. SOS Children's Villages will provide these families (32 adults, 72 children and 38 adolescents) with construction materials for building basic homes.
Children, youths and co-workers from SOS Children's Villages teamed up to collect clothes, drugs and foodstuffs. The SOS Children's Village vehicle, equipped with speakers, cruised the streets of the city and the surrounding areas. All donations collected were delivered to CONRED's collection centre. The response by the local population, as well as the mass media, and other organisations was extremely positive.
In El Salvador, the region around Santa Ana is in particular need of help due to hurricane Stan, continuing heavy rain and the fears of Ilamatepec Volcano erupting again. A number of shelters and help centres have been set up by different organisations. However, there was a lack of facilities for children to continue with their studies - this is where SOS Children's Villages comes in to help.
In the multi-purpose hall at SOS Children's Village Santa Ana, a temporary school is being established. Until the end of November, 260 children aged five to 13 will attend classes there in two shifts (morning and afternoon). After the rooms normally used by the SOS Kindergarten were modified, classes could start. The purchased educational support and school material is expected to arrive during the days to come.
Snack rations for all students are organised and prepared every day by the SOS mothers, supported by youths from the village.
In addition to that, post-trauma support is being offered to the local communities by the village's team of psychologists. So far, more than 20 families have made use of this offer.
Co-workers of SOS Children's Village Sonsonate have identified 63 most vulnerable families from the neighbouring communities. As soon as the best support options have been decided on, the village staff will provide help in close cooperation with communal authorities.
In Santa Tecla, most of the shelters set up initially have already been torn down since the people could return to their homes. One shelter is still operational to house those people whose homes have been destroyed. SOS Children's Villages, along with the local authorities, is currently looking into future options for supporting these people in building new homes.