Families near Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala had to evacuate their homes after the volcano erupted on Sunday. (Photo by CONRED – National Coordination for Disaster Relief of Guatemala)

B.C. woman seeks support for victims of volcano in Guatemala

Judy Bergen currently lives not far from where volcano erupted on Sunday

Judy Bergen of Abbotsford was sleeping late Saturday night when she was awakened by a boom.

This was different than the regular earthquakes she had felt in Guatemala so she drifted back to sleep.

The following day, she was headed out for lunch when it started to “rain,” but this rain was grey and had fine sand in it.

She looked up at the sky, and it was then that she knew the nearby Fuego volcano had erupted.

The sky grew darker and darker, and two hours later it slowed down. But then the devastation became apparent.

Fuego spewed ash and lava, and several villages, without warning, found themselves in the path of the lava flow.

The result is a death toll that had reached almost 70 by Tuesday morning – many of whom died from the lava fumes or were burned – and the evacuation of almost 3,300 people. Many are still missing.

Bergen has been living in the village of Jocotenango, which is about a 40-minute drive northeast of the volcano, since 2010. She still resides in Abbotsford when she is not in Guatemala.

She runs a charity called Love Guatemala, which she and her husband, Phil, began many years ago in Abbotsford after a trip there to visit one of their three children.

They felt called to respond to the needs of the Guatemalan people and they sold their home, discarded most of their possessions and moved to the country.

Over the years, with the help of teams from across North America, they built houses for widows, planted crops on behalf of local farmers and fed people at their local soup kitchen.

Sadly, Phil passed away in 2015 when he suffered a heart attack while serving people in the soup kitchen.

But Bergen continues the work, and is now appealing for help for citizens affected by the volcano.

“My heart is in a lot of pain, as I know people who lived at the base of the volcano and in the village of El Rodeo (one of the hardest hit areas),” she said.

Bergen said it is difficult to see the images in the paper and on Facebook of the coffins of those who died, including babies, and the feet of burn victims who tried to run over the crusted lava, not realizing that the fire is still burning underneath.

But she said it is also encouraging to see the country come together to sweep the streets and stand with donation boxes on the streets and in parks.

Bergen said the ash cannot be washed off items because it turns to soap and then hardens, and citizens are in need of clothing, food, water, bedding, shoes, diapers, medicine and more.

Love Guatemala Canada has already purchased many of these items and delivered them to a local fire hall, where they were then part of a three-ton truckload of donations taken to Escuintla, near the Pacific port.

Bergen said cash donations are particularly needed so that she can then purchase and deliver the needed items.

Visit cten.org/judybergen to make a donation.

 

Judy Bergen of Abbotsford runs a charity called Love Guatemala.

Ashes cover homes and vehicles following the eruption of a volcano in Guatemala on Sunday. (Photo by CONRED – National Coordination for Disaster Relief of Guatemala)

Volcan de Fuego erupts in Guatemala. (Photo by CONRED – National Coordination for Disaster Relief of Guatemala)

Abbotsford resident Judy Bergen currently lives in Jocotenango, Guatemala (top right), not far from where Vocan de Fuego (bottom left) erupted on Sunday.

Just Posted

COLUMN: Anger rising in Yellow Vests Canada movement

While the protests so far have been peaceful and orderly, there is also a simmering level of rage

Crosswalk coming to intersection near Penticton events centre

After years of plans a crosswalk is expected to be built on Alberni Street on Highway 97 this year

EDITORIAL: Revisiting Banks Crescent

Summerland had earlier considered controversial development at same location

South Okanagan dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Historic Summerland dam has been rebuilt

First dam was constructed in 1894 by Harry Dunsdon

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

B.C. woman planned to donate a kidney to her husband, then found out she has cancer

Richard Stuart needs a kidney, his wife Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer

15 to 20 cm of snow to fall on Coquihalla

Kelowna - A snowfall warning is in effect for the highway from Hope to Merritt

Most Read