Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mayan Dr. Speaks on Hurricane Stan Anniversary

Washington, D.C., August 28, 2006—October marks the anniversary of Hurricane Stan and the mudslides that buried the Guatemalan village of Panabaj. Dr. Irene Quiejú is coming to the north-east to speak about the tragedy and recovery.

Dr. Quiejú is the first female physician from Santiago Atitlán—the town of 40,000 that includes Panabaj--and the Director of the Hospitalito Atitlán, which was directly in the path of the mudslide. Dr. Quiejú will be speaking in Boston, New York City, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D. C.

The Hospitalito is currently the subject of a Harvard study looking at how a rural Guatemalan facility in an impoverished indigenous community could reopen in just 15 days after such a tragedy. The Hospitalito is now located in a temporary facility, but is in the process of building a new permanent structure.
Around 4,000 T’zutujils still live in a camp of USAID tents near the site of the original mudslide. The area has been declared uninhabitable by the Guatemalan Government, and hard rains have prompted several emergency evacuations already this hurricane season.

Contact Joel Inwood

703-401-0758 or joelinwood@puebloapueblo.org

Monday, August 28, 2006

Back From Santiago

I just returned from Santiago and thought I would write some of my impressions. Disaster Tourism is still alive and thriving in Panabaj, but I am pleased to report that tourists are no longer allowed to enter the area of the homeless shelters. Good to see a bit of respect being afforded those in such need.

It was really sad to see so many people still living in the temporary shelters a year after the disaster. The houses that the government constructed stand behind the existing community…a cinderblock village, ¾ finished when it was decided that the area was uninhabitable. The government is currently purchasing land to establish two permanent communities.

I sat in on two K’aslimaal, Monday night meetings and am pleased to report their meetings are now focused and action oriented. The organization has really made strides and the folks have learned to work together really well. Those early meetings, when they first were forming as a community group were….how can I put it…long and labored. They have really come together as an effective team.

K’aslimaal located and purchased (thanks to generous and caring donors Ray B. and Ron N.) an ideal piece of property and has begun clearing the land, installing electrical poles and digging the septic system. A local coffee beneficio is sending over 60 of their workers to provide volunteer labor, prior to heightened coffee activities in October. Meanwhile Lyn Dickey, is moving right ahead with the volunteer architect, David Schele. He is refining the designs and budget and come up with a modular approach to construction. This guy is quick, experienced and a true gift!!!!!!

I held a series of meeting with K’aslimaal and the temporary hospital administration. They are addressing indigent care issues, better organization of patient care under the leadership of Guatemalan doctors, financial controls at the Hospitalito, volunteer recruitment and a host of planning and operational issues. Let’s hear it for Josè Reanda, the Hospitalito Administrator….This T’zutujil business guy has really moved the organization of the Hospitalito to a new level. His hard work and infectious smile sets the standards for all the employees. (He asked me to send a message out into cyberspace to see if there is any U.S. hospital administrator volunteer who would like to spend a few weeks with him, honing his skills….if there is, write to me at

Lot’s of kudos go to Susie Glanville……..her thread and loom project is moving right along and producing fabulous results. She is beginning a mother-daughter program with our support. It is so incredible to spend time with her…..Here is a woman who had an idea, made it happen and is truly changing lives…….She is now moving into training and will undoubtedly have equal success.

Thanks to everyone who helped me celebrate my 63rd birthday to the sounds of marimba music in the Santiago twilight in the company of old and new friends and old and young friends. I finally understood the joys of piñatas. Thanks to Dr. Chuc who had us all in stitches………..