Guatemala ill prepared for dual emergencies

By June 3, 2010

Guatemala (MNN) — Tropical Storm Agatha set off floods and
landslides in Guatemala a day after Mt. Pacaya erupted. These two disasters
prompted the president to declare a "state of calamity."

A lack of emergency food and housing is complicating
matters. The country simply wasn't
prepared to respond with food already in short supply, compounded by three
years of drought. 

Although the flooding and the landslides displaced thousands, Jeff Jones with
Buckner International says their work isn't negatively
affected. "We have staff
there year-round trying to do ministry work with the least and the lost, and
they will continue to do that."

Buckner began its Guatemala program in 2002. By 2003, they began hosting volunteer
mission trips, then became a Guatemalan Foundation (and an NGO) in 2005.

For six years, Buckner has been an active part of the
dialogue between the government of Guatemala and the Ministry of Social Welfare. Buckner
offers training in foster care, preventative health care, childcare,
residential care and social services.

This kind of work requires many hands to keep it moving
forward, so the "perfect storm" Guatemala is weathering had slowed their
progress with a reduction in manpower. Short-term teams are rescheduling or diverting.

Jones says eight interns bound for
Guatemala had to be re-routed. "They're going to go
serve in Honduras for the month. It was at the request of our Guatemalan
staff which had plenty to do to try to take care of those that are in our

Buckner's outreach approach has always been about the whole
person. Jones explains that actions are a powerful way
to back up their words. In emergencies,
aid always opens doors for the Gospel. "They see that you're meeting their
needs, that you care about them without an ulterior motive or an agenda, and God
does provide opportunities to share our faith." 

You can help provide change for the better in
Guatemala. Click here for links to "how" and "where."

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