Still affected far from home

Faith Moldan

Faith Moldan

Katrina, Stan, Wilma, these are all names we’ve heard in the news during the past month. These names conjure images of destruction, loss and sadness for many; myself included.

I do not have family or friends in New Orleans or other affected areas in the South. My heart goes out to them, but my heart has recently been concentrated on Guatemala and those who lost everything in mudslides. I traveled to a small Guatemalan village during summer 2001.

San Lucas is located on the shores of Lake Atitlan in south-central Guatemala. My trip there was part of a mission trip organized by my local Catholic diocese in New Ulm, Minn. I was part of a 23-person group, made up of highschool students and adult chaperones, that spent one week in the town that is based around the church, church offices and school.

The work we did was strenuous and tiring, but the beauty of the people and land made all the pain go away. I will never forget the feeling of awe that came over me each morning as I stood brushing my teeth and looking at the three volcanoes that surround the lake and community; the view of the lake as we hiked up the hillside, and the exhiliration that I felt as we reached the end of that hike.

North of San Lucas is the town of Panajachel. This town was the hardest hit by the torrential rains produced by Hurricane Stan, as the nearby river overflowed. Other communities scattered around the edge of the lake were also affected. There are at least 500 reported dead in Santiago, a community our group traveled to during our stay in Guatemala. All of these towns lack means of communication, water and food. Roads are impasasible as well, making it even harder for relief supplies and volunteers to help.

The photos I’ve viewed on the Internet of the damage and the distraught people make my eyes well up with tears. The people in the affected areas have so little and lost it all. I remember going into one family’s home, and they had a small buffet set up for us for lunch. It’s rare to find that type of people in the world today.

The world seems to be in constant chaos with so many natural disasters occurring. All of them have caused significant damage of one kind or the other. Amidst this chaos, though, it seems to me that Guatemala has been forgotten. The number of fatalities is smaller than that of the most recent earthquake in Pakistan, but it’s still loss of human life.

I have a bracelet from my trip that reads “Dios es amor.” Translated in English, it says, “God is love.” Where is the love for Guatemala and its people? Is there a lack of help and publicity because they lack things we need and want like oil? Is it because they lack money, too?

Katrina, Stan and Wilma can teach us a lot. They can teach us how to be better “neighbors” to people around the world. Instead of bombing countries, why not lend a helping hand to all of them no matter what we may get from them?

#1.884817:3433791728.jpg:faith_tc.jpg:Faith Moldan, Columnist:Ty Carlson