NdL’s Response to Food Scarcity in Guatemala due to COVID-19
Niños del Lago realised that the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 would mean that we could not go ahead with the planned annual camps due in Oct/Nov. It quickly became very evident that due to the lockdown of the country the most vulnerable children and their families were going to have difficulty accessing food.
We wished to do something to help our neighbours and local communities. The decision was taken to use the funds we already had to go towards supplying basic food provisions to as many families as we could through a FOOD-AID PROGRAM.
The Guatemalan government was very quick to lockdown the country with no public transportation, a curfew from 4pm-4am at first and then adjusted to 5pm-5am, no movement between departments and even towns and villages, and many markets closed, along with businesses being shut. The knock-on effect of this has left many families with no, or little, work and no way of getting to markets and stores to purchase food and provisions or sell them. This means they are going hungry.
There are families with as many as 10 adults that have all lost their jobs. The need is great. More and more we seeing white flags appear in front of households; this indicates that the family inside is going hungry. In the Highlands of Guatemala, the majority of people work in the informal sector, living literally hand-to-mouth, so no work and no money today, means no food today! And for those growing and selling fresh produce, many are unable to get to the markets to sell.
The plan was to buy 9 essential, household food items and put them into a Food-Aid Package. The Products were: Corn, Pasta, Sugar, Rice, Oil, Salt, Black Beans, Oats, and Incaparina (fortified, nutritional powdered drink).
The current funds that NdL had for 2020 would enable a PHASE 1, with a distribution of 200 packages a month during April, May & June – a total of 600 packages.
While the above products were being source – no easy matter with prices rising daily, and bulk buying of some products only possible in Sololá – the NdL team started investigating which communities and families would receive these packages.
First the team approached the Mayor and Municipalidad (Muni – Local Government) of San Andres Semetabaj. This is the town closest to the Camp, just up above it. The Mayor then helped connect the team with the local COCODES of areas (mostly known as Aldeas), which they knew had vulnerable families and households.
These COCODES then produced a list for NdL to be able to ‘interview’ these families. The questions were very simple, with the main objective was to find the following: single mothers, elderly people especially those looking after grandchildren with no family support, and those families with handicapped members.
Almost an impossible task, as there were many more families in need that NdL can help. A short-list was then chosen of between 10-20 in 18 different aldeas. An extra 19th one, San Luis, was added at the last min.
With the funds we had and the help of an amazing group of eight volunteers, we managed to pack up 600 of these Food-Aid Packages. 200 of which were distributed at the beginning of May (it was not possible to do the delivery at the end of April as planned).
A Second delivery is underway this last week of May. This time NdL is working with the Bomberos of Pana and another NGO called Sololmon’s Porch, also based in Pana.
The plan is then to move on to PHASE II, if we can raise enough money. We very much hope that with your help (our wonderful friends, supporters, and donors), that we can raise enough funds to be able to continue this Food-Aid Program until the end of the year. PHASE II would be July, Aug, & Sept, and then PHASE III Oct, Nov, & Dec.
$12 provides 1 Food-Aid Package
$120 provides 10 Food-Aid Packages
$2,400 provides 200 Food-Aid Packages
(enough for 1 month’s distribution)
TOTAL NEEDED FOR PHASE II
Per Month – $ 2,400
For 3 months – $6,900
Donations can be made either via Paypal, or if you are in Guatemala via a bank deposit to NdL’s bank account with Banco Industrial or via Xoom.com to this account. Please contact us, for bank details.
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Please consider donating to this important new program is response to the food scarcity in Guatemala.