October 12 2005
SOS Children's Villages in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador offer help
12/10/2005 - In southern Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, the situation in the disaster-struck areas is dramatic in view of hurricane Stan. SOS Children's Villages is working jointly with the authorities so as to offer efficient assistance to those affected. Several SOS Children's Villages help their neighbouring communities directly.
In Mexico, the SOS Children's Villages in Tuxtla and Comitan are in contact with DIF (Integral Development of the Family; a governmental organisation responsible for the welfare of children), so as to shelter children, who have lost touch with their parents and relatives, in both facilities if necessary. This is the plight of some children in both communities.
SOS Children's Villages is also in contact with DIF representatives in Tapachula, one of the worst-hit communities in southern Mexico, though no concrete assistance measures have been initiated due to damaged telephone lines and blocked streets.
Fernanda Illescas, director of SOS Children's Villages Mexico, stated that DIF is focusing their relief efforts on the provision of water and food in the crisis-struck regions; the situation of the children without care and needing shelter has not been considered. Should unaccompanied children be found, they can be admitted to the SOS Children's Villages in Tuxtla and Comitán. All other SOS Children's Villages in the country are also being asked to prepare for the possible arrival of children.
Since the priority now is to provide those affected with water, food and clothing, SOS Children's Villages Mexico is providing all the aid supplies which DIF transport via helicopter to the crisis-struck areas.
In Guatemala, where the destruction brought on by hurricane Stan was greatest, the SOS Holiday Camp in Panajachel was heavily damaged. The grounds have been evacuated due to threat of further landslides.
In Retalhuleu, one of the seven most affected regions in Guatemala, SOS Children's Villages was authorised by CONRED (Coordination for the Reduction of Disasters) to collect drinking water, food and blankets. These goods will then be distributed by CONRED and the Red Cross by air, as most disaster-struck areas cannot be reached otherwise. Whether the SOS Children's Villages in Quetzaltenango and Guatemala City will be carrying out such assistance measures is being looked into.
All facilities in El Salvador remained untouched by the hurricane's impact, and the SOS Children's Villages there are therefore in a position to intensively assist their affected neighbours. The SOS Children's Villages in Santa Ana and Sonsonate have prepared food for and brought aid supplies to the neighbouring communities, and SOS youths are busy keeping track of donations which have been collected in both villages.
Both SOS Children's Villages are in close contact with emergency relief committees. The people are not only in danger due to heavy rains, but also because of the Ilamatepec Volcano, which is about to erupt.
The SOS Children's Village in Sonsonate has made a hall available for the accommodation of children who were evacuated, due to flooding, from the children's home of the Salvadoran National Children's Institute. The SOS Children's Village in San Miguel is also available as a temporary shelter for homeless families if necessary.
The children themselves in SOS Children's Village San Vicente have become active. They started an action within their village and neighbouring community aimed at collecting food, drinking water and clothing for needy families.