CENTRAL AMERICA: New appeal to help people impacted by hurricanes
Salesian Missions launches new fundraising appeal to help those impacted by hurricanes Eta and Iota
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Dec. 7, 2020) In November, Central America was hard hit by two Category 4 hurricanes. Hurricane Eta hit on Nov. 3 and Hurricane Iota hit less than two weeks later on Nov. 16. Hurricane Eta made landfall south of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, and then Iota made landfall less than 15 miles south near the town of Haulover. The torrential rains brought deadly landslides, flash flooding and destruction across Central America. More than 200 people have died as a result of the storms with millions more impacted and in need of help.
Salesian missionaries across Central America, including Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras, are responding locally to help those in need with shelter, food, clothing and more. Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, has launched a new fundraising campaign to help with this relief work.
“The stakes are high for those impacted by these hurricanes, especially now when we are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Because Salesian missionaries live in the communities where they work, they are perfectly positioned to respond in times of crisis. They know the local landscape and can ensure that relief aid is provided to those most in need.”
The Salesian community of Carchá, Guatemala, has eight priests who serve 350 villages, including more than 5,000 Indigenous students. At least 40 of the villages have been directly affected. The rains, strong winds and landslides have damaged houses with some completely destroyed under flood water. Many roads have been lost and some communities are no longer reachable. People have lost everything and are facing a challenging road ahead. Villages have opened their schools and churches to welcome displaced people.
Right after Hurricane Eta, Father Vittorio Castagna, a Salesian missionary stationed in San Pedro Carchá, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, said, “It hasn’t rained for three days, yet the water continues to rise and people are unable to go out. I saw some of them with deep sadness, feeling alone and insecure. The displaced people are now crowded into a very small place. It is a very uncomfortable environment, and this is indeed a trial for them.”
In Tegucigalpa, Honduras, students in the 2021 graduating class at San Miguel Salesian Institute launched a fundraiser to support the people affected. With COVID-19 safety measures in place, more than 1,000 people from the Francisco Morazán and Cortés departments were provided food, personal hygiene items, clothes, shoes, sheets, bedspreads, mats and bio-safety equipment.
The initiative also received the support of the Past Pupils Association from the María Auxiliadora Salesian Institute and San Miguel Institute in collaboration with Mis Manos Son Tus Manos Association. Rector Father Horacio Macal and the entire Salesian community also participated.
Salesian missionaries in these local communities are still assessing the damage and working to respond to people in need. In support of this work, Salesian Missions has launched its Central American Hurricane Relief Fund. Those who want to support these efforts are urged to donate online at salesianmissions.org/lp/hurricane-central-america/.
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