Monday, October 10, 2005

Charities: Don't Forget Guatemala

In the wake of last week's devastating earthquake in Pakistan, where over 30,000 are now reported dead, aid from all over the world is pouring into the devastating region. Lost and perhaps forgotten in the media's feeding frenzy over Pakistan's rising death toll is Guatemala, a nation that suffered its own natural disaster just a week earlier. (Washington Post: Guatemalan Villages Turn to Mud).

While a death toll listed in the hundreds sounds nowhere near as dramatic as the reports we're getting out of Pakistan, it does not change the fact that entire villages in Guatemala have been destroyed. Many are now homeless, but in some cases entire villages were wiped out. As many as 1400 were killed by mudslides in the village of Panabaj last Wednesday.

The situation in Guatemala is so bad that rescue workers are abandoning their attempts to locate people or recover bodies in some of the villages. Rather, they have petitioned the government to declare those villages as cemeteries and have the land officially recognized as hallowed ground.

The National Agency for Disaster Control in Guatemala reports that over 100,000 people in 421 communities were effected. 89,000 people are now living in shelters, and they have still been unable to reach 118 settlements. This type of disaster is far beyond Guatemala's ability to handle, both financially and logistically, without outside assistance.

Right now, Pakistan is getting all the media focus, and they certainly do need assistance. But do not forget Guatemala. They are just as desperate for aid as is Pakistan, but are no longer the focus of media attention. When looking for charities to assist in the relief efforts, be sure to include those that are taking care of this devastated Central American country. They are equally in need and deserving of assistance.


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