Post-Agatha letter from Uma and Tobey—and an invitation to help our neighbors in Jaibalito

Volunteer in Jaibalito, follow the link [July, August, October 2010]

Dear Friends,

Recently the area where we live (and all of Guatemala) was hit by a really big tropical storm called Agatha.

There wasn't a lot of dramatic wind, but it rained so hard for so long that the steep volcanic hillsides around Lake Atitlan began to crumble. In our little town there are now raging rivers where there wasn't even a stream, and huge mudslides as well. It is very lucky (and hard to believe) that in our town and the neighboring ones, no one was killed or even injured.

But people did lose their homes and all of their possessions—mostly in Jaibalito, the village right next to ours. We have read about a lot of natural disasters & tragedies, but living through one, we now know, really opens your eyes.

There are people working very hard to help these families. One thing our family would like to do is to raise money to prepare several midday meals for village's 120 residents, many of whom have no power or food or dry wood for cooking.

Even one dollar can go a long way here: It is enough to provide a person with a meal of rice and beans, tortillas, vegetables and coffee, which even the kids drink (with lots of sugar, of course)!

It would mean a lot to the people here to know that as far away as California people are thinking about them.

Our family is going to try to raise $500 to help our neighbors in Jaibalito. Any amount no matter how small will help us to reach our goal and will help these families through a very hard time.

If you would like to make a donation, please send a check to our Dad at the address below, along with an email letting us know how much you are sending. Since the checks can't easily reach us here in Guatemala, we will keep a tally of the amount collected. We hope to make a donation to Jaibalito AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, but my Dad will deposit the checks when we get home at the end of June.

We miss you all and are looking forward to seeing you soon.

Gracias y Besos, 

Uma and Tobey (and Jessica and David)

P.S. For several days before Agatha hit, a volcano was erupting near Guatemala City, 3 hours away. It covered that whole city in ash, closing roads and the airport. To make sure we wouldn't go thirsty we collected rainwater that Agatha dumped on us so generously. And guess what? The rain tasted like smoke! 
P.P.S. Thanks for sending checks to:
David Channer
c/o A Better Way
3200 Adeline Street
Berkeley, CA. 94703
& remember to send an email telling us the amount of the donation
to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Or, if you like paypal, that works too. Money can be sent electronically using This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it address.

Walking in Jaibalito last October.

This is what it looks like now! The smooth area down the middle is a former retaining wall, which is a meter wide and was at least 3 meters tall. If you look carefully at the left side of this picture you can see people. These boulders are huge.

The rocks stayed mostly out of the village, but when the retaining wall broke, water and mud went roaring through the town.

This little tienda used to sit near the dock. Locals sat nearby playing cards and waiting for boats.


This is what the waterfront area looks like now. It is hard to imagine the scale of the damage. And just how much a landscape can change from one day to the next.
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