[permaculture] Update: Guatemala Hurricane Relief & Permaculture Benefit Oct.15

Michael Burns burns at panix.com
Thu Oct 13 11:29:04 EDT 2005

Rebecca Cutter will be in the Ithaca area and will hold a presentation and
discussion about IMAP's work on Saturday, October 15th at 6pm.
Information about the Oct. 15 benefit to support IMAP's hurricane relief work
follows this letter and is at http://www.cayuta.org
------------------------------ Original Message ------------------------------
Subject: Update Santiago Atitlan
From:    "Rebecca Cutter" <rebecutter at gmail.com>
Date:    Wed, October 12, 2005 8:35 pm

Dear Friends,

 Thank you for your heart felt responses to the crisis we are living here in
Guatemala. There are 20 departments (states) affected by the hurricane which
devastated hundreds of communities in the Western and Central highlands and
the Pacific Coast. You can imagine, in the highlands we suffered landslides
and on the coast terrible flooding. One week later there are many
communities isolated, without food, clean water, shelter and medical attention.

 The situation in Santiago Atitlan is delicate as the possibility of
epidemics, like hepatitis A, cholera, and respiratory infections continue to
threaten the health of the survivors. Not to mention the psychological affect
this tragedy has had on the community. Currently there are an estimated 1,400
deaths and 5,735 refugees in 64 shelters.

 The Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP) has been working in
coordination with International Non Governmental Organizations: Water for
People, Doctors without Borders, and The Red Cross, as well as several
Governmental Organizations and the Local Municipality in the organization of
disaster relief. It can be chaotic at times but by the end of each day we are
a little bit closer to stabilizing the situation.

 The shelters are schools, churches and meeting halls with limited space,
toilets and access to sinks for washing. By day three, the first priority was
to quarantine the common grave, site of the major mudslide in Panabaj, one of
the neighbourhoods just West of the village, near the site of the 1990
massacre. The area was declared a "high risk zone"; however it has been
difficult to prohibit people from returning to the area in search of missing
relatives and belongings. The second priority was to chlorinate the municipal
water supply, which has proved a difficult task. Today is the third day the
water supply is chlorinated. We have encountered some resistance from the
community in drinking chlorinated water. A meeting was held today to prohibit
the community from consuming non chlorinated lake water, fish or snails.
Fishing is the primary livelihood and food source for most Atitecos and the
women wash clothing and fetch water from the shore. The bay of Santiago
Atitlan is highly contaminated with the bodies of victims and dead animals
surfacing daily. I apologize for being so graphic in my reporting.

 With the help of Water for People and Doctors without Borders we have
acquired enough chlorine for one month and the knowledge to dose the tanks
appropriately. We still need at least one month more worth of chlorine and the
funds to install a chlorification system. We have also secured 30 portable
water tanks for the individual shelters. Our third sanitation concern was with
the provision of portable latrines for shelters. In all of the Republic of
Guatemala we were only able to find 40 available
porta-potties. Fortunately the company was willing to go out of their way,
driving their trailer over a damaged bridge to install the latrines today. We
are very aware that 40 latrines won't even begin to solve the problem but we
hope that by placing them strategically we can avoid illnesses in high risk
shelters. We have only enough funds to rent for 10 days and will depend on
your support to extend the contract.

 Moving on to garbage... your donations help us purchase massive amounts of
plastic bags to remove the trash daily from the shelters. Emergency rations
produce huge amounts of garbage which then have to be burned to avoid more

 IMAP is the only local organization participating within what is referred to
as the socio – sanitation committee. We are coordinating donations of
supplies, trucked in from the capital city and neighbouring towns and then
making sure these donations are administered appropriately; for example,
organizing the distribution and proper use of latrines and water tanks.

 We are a small organization but we know the area well, (we speak the local
language) which has proved to be an asset. We also have the support of many
organizations and individuals in the capital city who are dedicated to helping
us find the supplies we need many much of which have been donated. We are
still in the stage of securing basic sanitation. In a few days temporary
shelters will be constructed to decrease the population density in the centre
of town. Reconstruction of homes is impeded by the lack of available, safe

 We feel grief for the loss of life and the destruction in this beautiful
town, heart of the Maya Tzutujil. We also feel frustration with the difficult
situations which arise and the delayed response from the government but we are
encouraged by the amount of solidarity and expertise which support and guide

 Thank you for your continued support,

Rebecca Cutter, Ronaldo Lec, Gabino Bocel and Felix Archila


Please send donations to our umbrella organization Permaculture America Latina
(PAL) with 501 C-3 status.

Permacultura America Latina
723 Allendale Street
Santa Fe, NM 87505
505-989-1695 ph.
505-988-9702 fax

If you wish to send a wire, you have two options:

Use Wells Fargo's FedWire routing transit number, 121000248 for domestic wires
or use Wells Fargo's Swift code: WFBIUS6S for international wires Bank Name:
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
City/State: San Francisco, CA (regardless of where your account is located)
Routing transit number 121000248 or SWIFT address: WFBIUS6S
Account number: 769-0079853
Account title — Permacultura America Latina
Rebecca Cutter
Instituto Mesoamericana de Permacultura
San Lucas Tolimán, Sololá, Guatemala
502 57868033
- - - - - - - - - - - -
The weather looks promising for this Saturday. What about rain? ...then at
least some of the activities will continue... 12noon: bow drill class to fire
up the cob bread oven... 2pm: Introducion to basic permaculture principles...
4pm: Site tour w/permaculture brainstorms... 6pm: Rebecca Cutter reports on
Hurricane Stan relief work in Guatemala... Sunset: a bazing warm campfire,
fresh homemade bread... and more if the sun shines!

More Information?
CALL IF YOU NEED A RIDE: 607-227-0316
Visit http://www.cayuta.org

Find Cayuta Sun by driving about 10 miles west on route 79
from Ithaca. Take the sharpest left in Mecklenburg onto route 6.
Travel 7 miles south and turn right onto S. Swamp Rd.
Look for the green roof.

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