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Helping families recover after the volcanic eruption in Guatemala

Helping families recover after the volcanic eruption in Guatemala

Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted on 3 June 2018, killing more than 100 people and forcing 12,000 to evacuate their homes.

An estimated 1.7 million people - 10% of Guatemala's population - have been affected by this eruption and the lava, ash, and mud that followed.

In the aftermath of the disaster, Plan International is working in three of the largest shelters in Guatemala’s Central region, with an estimated population of 1,625 people.

We’re responding with essential items for evacuees, including mattresses and sheets for temporary shelters, and psychosocial support to help children recover from the trauma of their experiences.

In many of these shelters, more than half of the occupants are children. Providing a safe place for children to come together, be protected from any abuse or violence, and interact and play can go a long way to addressing the emotional challenges they face.

John Lundine, Country Director of Plan International Guatemala

A Plan International employee works with children at a shelter in Guatemala
A Plan International worker with children at one of the shelters in Guatemala

Creating safe spaces for children

Alba and her 10-year-old daughter Ruth, who lives with cerebral palsy, were fortunate to be away from their home at the foot of the volcano when it erupted.

Alba’s husband and three other children were also able to save themselves by running away, but their home and land are buried under mud and ash.

Alba and her family are now living in one of the shelters Plan International are working in. When our support team arrived, Alba recognised us because we worked in her community more than 10 years ago, and her eldest daughter had been a sponsored child.

The shelter has special food and medical services that cater to Alba’s needs, and a wheelchair that lets her join in and play with the other children staying there.

Alba and her daughter at a shelter in Guatemala
"I remember all the work done to improve my community and promote the rights of boys and girls. My oldest girl, who is now 21, had a sponsor and her relationship with them marked her life, and that of her family forever." - Alba

Reducing the impact of trauma

Alongside the mattresses, sheets, and hygiene kits, we're establishing comprehensive child protection services, creating safe spaces and providing 12 psychologists so that children’s physical and emotional needs can be supported. This support will help them overcome feelings of fear, instability and uncertainty.

Children are also being encouraged to take part in games and creative activities, to take their minds off the damage that’s been done to their homes.

Ana and her daughter at a shelter in Guatemala
"At the beginning, my little girl kept saying ‘Mummy, let’s leave this place, this is not home, there are too many people here.’ But now she is happier thanks to the help we have received." - Ana

Your support helps us respond quickly to situations like these. When a disaster strikes and children’s lives are disrupted, psychosocial support for children can mean the difference between recovery and long-term trauma.

Learn about our emergency response work