Mateo’s Story – Working together in the wake of disaster
30th January 2019
In June 3 2018 devastating ash and lava flows from El Fuego Volcano, in Guatemala, brought tragedy to surrounding communities.
It is estimated that about 3,400 people have been evacuated to temporary shelters and 1.7 million people were affected by volcanic ash. More than 300 were killed and over 400 people were wounded. Y Care International has supported YMCA Guatemala to offer emergency aid and emotional therapy sessions to young people and their families.
Mateo has shared his emotional story of the disaster:
“I have lived here in the community a long time. We were used to the rumblings of the volcano, but we did not expect what happened.
I lost almost all my family. My 5 children and my wife, whom I was married to for 35 years were killed. We had everything. We had our houses, our belongings. It has been a very difficult situation to handle because there were several people in my family and now, I only have my son to fight for, to get him out of this situation.
We are convinced that the people and organisations help more than the government. The government has supported very little. They coordinate actions carried out by other organisations. Now, the government wants to give us a place to live but the conditions are bad.
Thanks to all the organisations and to YMCA Guatemala, for these activities. The sport becomes therapy to heal wounds and makes us able to leave everything in the past.
For now, I am unemployed. I used to work as a water operator in the Ingenio Magdalena (a Guatemalan water company). With what has happened, I stopped working so that I could search for my family. Now I must look for a job to support my son. For now, I am at head of the COCODE (Community Councils for Urban and Rural Development). I have to be coordinating some actions here in the ATUS (Transitional Single-Family Hostels) and it’s my turn to be traveling to meetings with the ministries and other organizations.
I think that all the actions that you do are not in vain. Only together can we get out of this situation.”