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Rapid response gets food to families after earthquake

Guatemala, November 28, 2012

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Along the western coast of Guatemala, over 7,000 homes were damaged after the strongest earthquake to hit the country in 36 years. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Nearly 24,000 people were evacuated in the San Marcos and Quetzaltenango departments, which were rocked by days of aftershocks. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    For the past four years, we have been supporting farmers in this agricultural region to increase their productivity and earn more in larger global markets. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Many families in these remote communities survive on less than a dollar a day. The fragile economy is severely affected by natural disasters like this earthquake, which uproot families from their homes and land — their only livelihood. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mercy Corps teams immediately began visiting families after the earthquake to assess the damage to their homes and find out their needs. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    They found that 95 homes were completely destroyed in the eight communities we currently support. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The Velasquez family lost their home in the village of Paxoj, Quetzaltenango. Here, they listen as Mercy Corps’ Selvin Maldonado explains that they will receive emergency food rations. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mercy Corps distributed food supplies to 210 families — more than 1,100 people, including 373 children. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Along with the food, families received a flyer providing healthy recipes to make the most of the provided ingredients, as well as guidelines for treating water and maintaining proper hygiene. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Many families have 3-7 children to feed, including infants. We’re especially targeting nursing mothers to maintain their nutrition. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Breastfeeding can be seriously affected by the stress of disasters like this earthquake. Through the flyer and in-person counseling, Mercy Corps emphasizes the importance of feeding infants breastmilk over other food. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mothers are also worried about keeping their children warm in makeshift shelters like this, made of plastic and leaves. Temperatures in this area of Guatemala are now dipping below freezing at night. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Alba suffered a blow to the head when the roof of her adobe house caved in. She is healing, but the scarf helps keep out the cold that continues to aggravate her pain. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Her sister, Amalia, was shy but happy to see Mercy Corps teams when they came to visit her village of Huitan, Quetzaltenango. We are actively exploring ways to bring safer, warmer temporary shelter to hers and many more families in the coming weeks. Photo: Fernando Prera/Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps works in some of the poorest communities in western Guatemala — which were at the epicenter of the 7.4 earthquake that struck the country on November 7, 2012. Already living on few resources and in poorly constructed homes, thousands were left with nothing, struggling to find shelter, food and treatment for their injuries. Our teams mobilized within days to reach communities with emergency assistance.