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October 9th, 2015

For most of 2015, my family and I have been living and volunteering in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Often referred to as “the land of the eternal spring”, Guatemala is a beautiful, mountainous land with a wonderful climate. Guatemala City sits in the midst of these mountains. Our backyard is a lush green ravine, full of ever growing bamboo, vines, banana trees, and mosquitos. When we first arrived, two months before the rainy season started, we began to hear cautionary stories about all the trouble that can be caused by the eight-month-long wet season. The gist of the warnings was: when it rains, the earth moves. Mountainous roads could be overrun with debris or even washed away completely. Creeks become flooded and expand their banks. Roads will flood and be impassable. On a recent trek out to small lake town, we encountered this first-hand as we drove through a small creek for lack of a bridge that had been washed out (yay for Jeeps). As September came to a close, it seemed as though this wet season had safely come and gone. On October 1st, a torrential downpour caused a deadly landslide in a small suburb town called Santa Catarina Pinula. This tragic event is the largest landslide Guatemala has seen in recent history, burying homes in earth as deep as forty-nine feet. Currently, there are 220 casualties, while an estimated 300 are still missing. Thousands of volunteers and rescue workers have been working around the clock, manually digging through the 120,000 tons of dirt in search of survivors. I find myself inspired by their courage as they dig, carefully removing dirt one bucket at a time, hoping beyond hope that each person they find will miraculously still be alive. No doubt it will take weeks--if not months--to remove the dirt and account for those that are still missing.

Photo: USA Today

Before last week, the idea of risk existed; now the reality stands at the forefront of our minds. Tragedy occurred just one mile from our house, literally a little too close to home for our comfort level. This could have been our story, our ravine that collapsed, our home that was buried, our family and neighbors being searched for. My mind is constantly filled with terrifying scenarios and questions that cannot be answered. This sudden tragic incident has forever changed the lives of hundreds of Guatemalans. Most have lost everything they have, with no insurance to help replace it. It’s been incredible to watch as the locals have come together to provide emergency relief in this critical time.

Photo: Reuters

We, too, are joining in the effort. This weekend, my family and I will be gathering our donations of clothes and water. This month, Ten One will be taking action and asking for your help to provide relief support for this community. The Guatemala National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (known as Conred) has set-up relief shelters and is coordinating supply donations for the survivors. We are committing to designate 10% of our gross sales during the month of October to purchase supplies like water, clothes, and food. Through these simple donations, we can help rebuild a broken and impoverished community.