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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Water recovery team stands down search for missing man in Stellako River

Jason Bouchard was in a boat with a friend that overturned in the river May 16

COVID-19: PG Community Foundation to disperse community support funds

$197,630 in funding announced by the Prince George Community Foundation

CGL workforce will gradually increase to 650 workers by end of May

The pipeline company provided a project update on May 21.

With wildfire season approaching, here are some tips to be ‘FireSmart’ this year

Q & A with Lindsay King, FireSmart Educator for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Most Read