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

Okanagan air quality at a high health risk

The north, central and south Okanagan are all listed at a nine on AQHI

Central Okanagan firefighters are battling wildfires across B.C.

Lake Country, Kelowna and Peachland crews are assisting the BC Wildfire Service

Long-awaited John Hindle Drive in Kelowna just weeks away from completion

Ministry of Transportation says it plans to have the road open before the start of the school year

Syrian refugee to share his story during Kelowna’s pride parade

Anas Qartoumeh, a gay Syrian refugee, will be this year’s Grand Marshal for the Pride March.

Okanagan club milestone for girls with disabilities

Vernon-based GIRLS CLUB celebrates one-year anniversary

A first-hand look at hazards facing scooter users

A Salmon Arm reporter tags along on a mobility scooter tour of the city to learn about safety hazards

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her burgeoning organic popsicle and freezies business in 2014, she was “shocked” by the feedback she received from one of the bankers.

Hedley frontman’s alleged sex offences case returns to court

Jacob Hoggard faces three sexual assault-related charges will return to a Toronto courtroom this morning.

Climate change likely to cause more sewage leaks, says environment minister

More than one hundred municipal wastewater systems did not report how much raw sewage overflowed from their pipes in 2017.

Priests molested 1,000 children in Pennsylvania, report says

The “real number” of abused children and abusive priests might be higher since some secret church records were lost and some victims never came forward.

South Okanagan powwow celebrates young leaders

Penticton Between the Lakes powwow continuing to grow

Defiant as Trump rages, Omarosa says she won’t be silenced

Manigault Newman declared she will not be silenced by President Donald Trump, remaining defiant as her public feud with her former boss shifted from a war of words to a possible legal battle.

Death toll hits 39 in Italy bridge collapse; blame begins

The collapse of the Morandi Bridge sent dozens of cars and three trucks plunging as much as 45 metres (150 feet) to the ground Tuesday.

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Most Read