Volcan Fuego Erupts in Guatemala

As I’m sure most of you have heard by now, Guatemala’s Fuego Volcano erupted on Sunday, June 3rd, sending smoke and ash more than 3.5 miles into the atmosphere. Although Fuego erupts frequently, this is the largest eruption in decades. There was heavy ash damage in many areas but the most significant damage resulted from a large pyroclastic flow on the south side of the volcano. Sadly, villages close to the eruption and pyroclastic flow were deeply affected. More than 14,000 people have been evacuated, 4,000 are in shelters. 192 people are still listed as missing and the death toll has risen to 99, with many more injured. More than 1.5 million people were directly/indirectly impacted by the eruption of Fuego on Sunday.

I have been in touch with all my local operators in Guatemala and I want to assure all of you that the staff, guides and their families are all safe. The international airport in Guatemala City was closed for less than 24 hours (due to the ash fall) and is now operating flights as usual. Antigua, a prized tourist destination about 15 miles away from the volcano, suffered heavy ash fall but the clean up was complete by Monday evening and Antigua is now fully accessible. The rest of the country (other than the villages that were directly impacted) is operating normally. The only destinations that we will not be visiting for a while are the volcanoes Acatenango and Fuego as well as La Reunion Golf Course – which will not impact any of my current clients.

Many of you have reached out this week to ask about relief efforts and how you might best help those in need in Guatemala. I have received several requests for support and although I have not personally vetted each of them, they have all come from sources I trust. I invite you to support the relief efforts that are currently underway in country but please do so wisely and make sure it is through an organization or individual that you trust.

Here are a few of the links that have come across my desk in the past few days:

My ground operators, Maya Trails, together with Hertz Car Rental in Guatemala, converted their offices into a temporary collections center for medical supplies, food, clothing, bedding, personal hygiene, baby supplies, and toys for the little ones. Every afternoon, they take what has been collected to different shelters throughout the affected areas. This may go on for a few weeks or potentially for months. They have committed to collecting and taking donations to the victims until all the people in shelters are settled into their new communities or homes. You can find out more about what they are doing in their blog.

One of my guides, Bindy Viviana, sent an urgent plea through Facebook on Tuesday asking all her friends in the United States to send money, food, clothing, whatever could be spared, to the local villages. Because of her request, another one of her friends set up a PayPal Account that Bindy can access to give direct relief on the ground to the victims of this tragedy. You can access that account here.

Cynthia Guerra, who is affiliated with Latin American Heritage Camps (a part of Heritage Camps for Adopted Families), sent a link to this GoFundMe page. The donations received will specifically target rebuilding a school and/or playground in one of the local communities that was impacted by the pyroclastic flow.

Pomona Impact is a social investment firm that is collecting funds to channel to grassroots efforts. They are the neighbors of another organization that I work with in Guatemala called Starfish. Starfish knows this organization well and trusts that their efforts will be carefully targeted to help the local communities in their recovery. Donations can be made to Pomona Impact via this link.

As is always the case, The Red Cross, is on the ground and already deeply involved in relief efforts in the areas that were impacted. If you want to find out more about their specific efforts and give to the Red Cross, here is that link.

I also received this video that will show you the reason why Guatemala has so captured my heart. This tragedy has united the people of Guatemala. Their compassion, resilience and love for one another is shining through!! Sending love, prayers and/or money always makes a difference but so do your tourist dollars. Please don’t cancel plans to go to Guatemala this summer if you already have a trip booked. And if you don’t have a trip booked, call me and we’ll make it happen. Even your tourist dollars make a huge impact on recovery efforts. And the people of Guatemala need you now more than ever!

If you’d like to visit  Guatemala in the coming weeks or months don’t hesitate to contact me. You can schedule a 30-minute Discovery Session at www.calendly.com/bambi. I’d LOVE to help get you and your family to this amazing country – or any of the countries we travel to.

Thank you for your support!

All my best,

Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, a Certified Professional Coach, and the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel began by designing Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of those Heritage Journeys has always been on deepening family connections, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Motherland Travel also uses the philosophies of transformative Travel for designing family trips with purpose – building rich connections, with each other and the world! Read more about her here >> http://motherlandtravel.com/

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