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Jan 8, 2019

Final report

Guatemala’s catastrophic eruption of the Volcan de Fuego in July of 2018 left an approximately 165 people dead and thousands of others homeless. The aftermath of this natural disaster affected more than 1.7 million people in three communities: El Rodeo, Acatenango, and Escuintla.

Today, hundreds of people in these three communities continue to lack basic goods and services, especially low-income and economically vulnerable households. In addition, many survivors suffer from psychological and emotional repercussions as a result from their own experiences and the loss of their loved ones.

As our supporters will know, in the wake of this tragedy, Global Giving sent funds to a civil society organization (CSO) in Guatemala that was actively working to not only provide basic goods, such as food, water, and shelter, but also psychosocial counseling for survivors. The Asociacion Generando Equidad, Liderazgo, y Oportunidades, commonly known as ASOGEN, had years of experience providing gender equity training in the community of El Rodeo, but sought to expand its services when calamity struck the lives of thousands and thousands of Guatemalans.

In the last few months, ASOGEN has opened a new facility that serves distinct functions and roles for the CSO. Thanks to kind contributions of Global Giving and the help of volunteers, ASOGEN uses this space to assemble baskets of food, medicine, and hygiene supplies. Once the baskets are ready, groups of ASOGEN staff and volunteers distribute them to the calamity-affected households.

In addition, ASOGEN utilizes this new facility to host grief counseling and life skills sessions aimed for survivors to not only cope with their grief, but also—and more importantly—to envision a better future and design a concrete plan to accomplish their goals. One adolescent girl, recently said, “I am so thankful and grateful for these sessions, which have helped think of other things than the tragedy I experienced.”

Another young boy said, “I did not know how traumatized I was by the incident. When the volcano exploded, I was working outside of my community and there was a period of time that I could not contact my family. For a moment, I really thought they had all passed away. When I was finally able to get home, I was overjoyed to learn they were all alive and safe. In the first grief session, I realized that one moment where I thought I had lost my family continues to be a source of anxiety and depression.”

Overall, ASOGEN has provided more than 170 male and female youth with seven psychosocial counselling sessions and hosted three community-wide workshops.

With additional funding in November 2018 from Global Giving, ASOGEN launched a project with the objective to provide seed capital, business classes, high school scholarships, and vocational courses to further enable participants to have a positive future following this disaster. A monitoring and evaluation plan was also designed to track participant’s success with the project.

ASOGEN are very grateful for the continued support and investment from Global Giving.

Nov 15, 2018

Youth council members get together in London

Youth Council member, Sasha
Youth Council member, Sasha

Last month, three of our youth council members got together to discuss how the council can begin to influence governance and leadership at Global Fund for Children, whilst we continue to fundraise for the council.

Sasha, Nasra and Mete met up in Central London to discuss how they felt the council should be shaped, how they can add value to the organisation and what they may need to do to ensure our Global Giving campaign is successful.

Sasha sent this update: 

When Mete, Nasra, and I met we had a very productive discussion regarding the “infrastructural” basics of the Youth Council. As alike thinking individuals, we have managed to agree on several important points. First, about the role of the Youth Council. Ideally, we would prefer to be able to shape (within limits, of course) the politics of the board of trustees. We do believe, that we may be able to find something which has been missed, as young people ourselves. We also do believe that ground work is essential — that we need to speak with some of our grassroots partners to be able to indentify missing spots and opportunities. Logistically, we established that a quarterly meeting should be sufficient in order to proceed with work; and use online methods to keep in touch regularly.

We are looking forward to making the most of upcoming Giving Tuesday and raising further funds for this essential work - 2019 looks set to be an awesome year, bringing youth into the governance of GFC! Keep an eye out for further updates via our page. Thank you, once again, for being a donor to this work.

Sep 17, 2018

Life After the Fire Volcano Eruption

Youth taking part in activity rehabilitation.
Youth taking part in activity rehabilitation.

"When I woke up the next day, life as I knew it—it had changed forever." – a child from El Rodeo village, speaking about the eruption of “Volcán de Fuego” in Chimaltenango, Guatemala.

After the eruption of Volcán de Fuego in June, the inhabitants of El Rodeo village in Chimaltenango were relocated to variousshelters in Guatemala. Asociacion Generando (ASOGEN) responded immediately to the emergency, fulfilling immediate needssuch asproviding food, clothing, and medicine for families affected by the eruption. In the weeks that followed, they designed a psychosocial care program, which focused on delivering psychological care to children and youth coping with this traumatic experience.

A few weeks ago I visited the “Albergue de Transicion Unifamiliar” in Escuintla, a government-run shelter for hundreds of families who survived the volcano. The shelter has a temporary school where students from Instituto por Cooperativa de Aldea El Rodeo—a school that was destroyed in the eruption—take classes so they can finish their school year. Because some students showed post-traumatic behaviors, Julia Rodriguez Giron, the school principal, contacted ASOGEN to provide psychological care to students as a way to cope with grief.

Every two weeks, ASOGEN’s staff visit the shelter and provide psychological and medical care. According to Marian Salazar, ASOGEN’s medical doctor, displaced students there suffer from a number of diseases such asurinary tract diseases, dermatitis, and impetigo (gastritis nervosa). Psychological care is provided by ASOGEN’s seven-person team, which includes psychologists and social workers. Each of them works with a group of approximately 25 students and covers a curriculum that includes topics like controlling emotions and stress management.

The students that attend the workshop share their emotions as a group and try to cope with the sadness of losing family, friends, and livelihoods. A moving element that takes place during the workshop is the “burning of emotions” where students write the feelings that affect them on a piece of paper that is then burned. This symbolizes the elimination of emotions that they no longer want to feel.

The following quotes are from students from El Rodeo School that were shared during the psychosocial workshop I attended in Escuintla.

  • "Before the eruption of the volcano, my life was different.”
  • "That Friday Karen, Ludwig, Jefferson, and I were so happy to leave school because the exam period was over." (Karen, Ludwig, and Jefferson died, but mentioning their names in the workshop session brings closure to those who remember them.)
  • "Since the eruption happened, I have not had a moment of joy."
  • “I was very scared when the volcano eruption happened, I do not feel safe, even though I am with my family.”
  • “I am angry because my life changed and sad because my cousins and friends died."

Through the implementation of this workshop, ASOGEN’s team is monitoring the progress of the students’ mental health. Both the ASOGEN team and the school principal know that recovery from grief and acceptance of reality is a long-term process, but they know that the psychosocial care workshops have helped students cope and have provided hope. The following quotes demonstrate that the workshops have had a positive influence on the students.

"Despite being sad, I feel happy because my mom and sister are fine."

"I'm still scared, but I am alive and that's enough motivation to keep going."

Thanks to our donors and their contributions, we've reached our funding goal! You have made a real difference for the children and youth affected by Volcano Fire's eruption. We are very grateful for your support.

"I hope things get better in your life"
"I hope things get better in your life"
A group of women posing in front of govt. shelter.
A group of women posing in front of govt. shelter.
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