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Take a (virtual) trip to Guatemala on March 24

‘After the Storms: Humanitarian Response in Times of Disaster’ will help participants stay connected to Guatemala during the pandemic

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

Some of the flooding in Cobán, Guatemala, following last November’s hurricanes. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Overlooked by most media around the world, the twin hurricanes of Eta and Iota last November devastated Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, countries already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The impacts of the overflowing rivers and resulting landslides brought about tremendous loss of housing and jobs and caused widespread food and clean water shortages.

to bring attention to the situation and assess its ability to meet the need, longtime Presbyterian Mission Agency global partner CEDEPCA (the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America) has planned a virtual journey for March 24.  “After the Storms: Humanitarian Response in Times of Disaster,” is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time/7:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

“While it’s not the same as traveling to Guatemala and seeing the situation for yourself, our virtual journeys do allow people to stay connected to Guatemala during the pandemic,” says the Rev. Betsey Moe, Intercultural Encounters Facilitator for CEDEPCA.

The event is open to all, but pre-registration is required by clicking here. A donation of $11 is suggested for each participant. After registering, a confirmation email will be sent with instructions about how to join the event.

Because a portion of the One Great Hour of Sharing offering goes directly toward CEDEPCA’s disaster ministry in Guatemala, participants will see firsthand the impact of those contributions. Speakers will include Francisco Reyna of CEDEPCA and the Rev. Edwin González-Castillo of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. The 90-minute presentation in English will be a mix of music, breakout room interaction, videos, and live interviews, and will explore the larger theme of helping vulnerable populations without creating long-term harm.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance directed funds to support 450 families with food, hygiene kits, and psychological support when the pandemic struck Central America and then again to the emergency relief efforts after Hurricane Eta.


CEDEPCA recently delivered supplies to the Guatemalan community of Cobán, hit hard in November by Hurricanes Eta and Iota. (Photo courtesy of CEDEPCA)

Because of its geographic location, Guatemala is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, drought, hurricanes, floods and landslides take lives, destroy roads, homes, and cropland, and displace entire communities.

CEDEPCA risk managers help communities make contingency plans and create early warning systems. In areas where cellphones aren’t in widespread use, villagers have been known to warn one another of dangerous weather conditions by banging pots and pans with a spoon or by blowing a whistle throughout their neighborhood.

Moe, who’s currently sheltering in place in the U.S., is the new facilitator for CEDEPCA’s Intercultural Encounters and is helping plan the virtual journey. She will move to Guatemala post-pandemic to receive North American church groups, seminarians, and college/university students who travel to the region. The groups will have the opportunity to discover Guatemala’s diversity, beauty, and complexity, and to experience the everyday life of Guatemalans through immersion programs. She will be part of the team that facilitates their educational program and itinerary, interprets, and leads reflection discussions.

Give to One Great Hour of Sharing to enable Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to respond quickly to catastrophic events.

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