Urgent Hurricane Disaster Relief Needed to Support ILAG, Guatemala

December 10, 2020


DONATE HERE (be sure to mark "Disaster Response")

Our companion synod, la Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala (ILAG) is suffering. Two devastating hurricanes have destroyed their fields, crops, homes and basic infrastructure. Their water is contaminated, farm animals drowned, and it continues to rain. All of this on top of a second wave of COVID. The Southeastern Synod has set up a Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund to raise a minimum of $44,000 to provide our siblings in Christ with emergency food and supplies. Your gift will bring compassion and relief to our rural ILAG families.
 
Typical field in an ILAG village
In mid-November, Debbie Michaud, CARE International wrote, “In the short span of two weeks, Central America has been battered by two category 4 hurricanes: Hurricane Eta made landfall Nov. 3 and Iota in the early hours of Nov. 17.  Both storms brought extreme winds and heavy rains that have destroyed roads, homes and entire villages in … Guatemala.  Over 3 million people have been affected by Eta.  Iota is the 13th hurricane of the season, a record number.”

According to the New York Times (Natalie Kitroeff, December 4, 2020),  Adm. Craig S. Faller, the head of the US Southern Command, which has been delivering aid to survivors of the storm stated, “The devastation is beyond compare.  When you think about Covid, plus the double punch of these two massive, major hurricanes back to back — there are some estimates of up to a decade just to recover.”  Additionally, “We are facing an imminent health crisis,” said Sofía Letona, the director of Antigua to the Rescue, an aid group, “Not just because of Eta and Iota, but also because these communities are completely unprotected from a second wave of Covid.”

Of particular concern to us in the Southeastern Synod is the effect of the storms on the rural congregations of ILAG , our companion synod.  Since 2003, our synod has been walking in close partnership with our fellow Lutherans in rural and urban areas in Guatemala through ILAG.  Earlier in 2020 we concluded a program called “Hands Up” which provided needed food relief to rural families unable to travel to seek necessities due to Covid: A sum of $105 was provided to each family in the rural congregations; the funds were sufficient to provide food and supplies for a family of six for three months’ time.  In September, we broadcast a virtual gala in support of the Milagro School for young women to provide financial support to educate and train them to return to their villages as future leaders of the church and their communities.
 
Pastor Ricardo, Jesus de los Milagros,
la Israel, Guatemala, reviewing damage to crops
According to Pastora Karen Castillo, President of the ILAG Synod, the families of the rural congregations are now faced with near total devastation of the crops and fields due to the resultant flooding and erosion of the land.  Additionally, with the destruction of infrastructure throughout the northern regions of the country, effective communication, transportation, and electricity no longer exists.

To meet the most pressing needs of the people within ILAG devastated by the storms, the Guatemala Committee, with the blessing of Bishop Strickland, is establishing a Hurricane Relief Fund with a goal of raising a minimum of $44,000.  The Committee is asking congregations and members throughout the Southeastern Synod to lend support.  Funds generated will be used to provide emergency food supplies for each family to assist them as they strive to find ground in which to plant.  Additionally, to assist in future emergencies, when communication and electrical lines fail, every rural Lutheran family will be provided with a solar powered lamp that is capable of recharging cell phones and emergency devices.
Solar lamp by Vincente Ax and Juan Carolos Mucu, Santa Amelia, Peten, Guatemala

In response to the needs, the ELCA, through Lutheran Disaster Response, is providing $35,500 to meet immediate needs.  Additionally, one of the Southeastern Synod’s congregations, the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection (LCR), Marietta, Georgia, has given a gift to the Synod of $10,000 toward the Synod goal.  In making their gift, Pastor Stephen Friedrich, LCR,  wrote, these gifts are given “to support our partners in Guatemala as they help their members and neighbors recover.” For their gifts, we offer thanks to God.  Further, Pastor Jill Henning, Assistant to the Bishop, has reported that the Disaster Relief committee of our Synod is considering how it may also support the families in need.

Your contributions and those of your congregation may be given through the link provided above or directly through the Southeastern Synod, marked Hurricane Disaster Relief, Guatemala.
 
Pastor Robert L. Bear
Synod Guatemala Committee
 
DONATE HERE (be sure to mark "Disaster Response")