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

Port Alberni RCMP honour fallen officers from New Brunswick

Moment of silence, prayers held for Fredericton officers killed last week

Trio of Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock events planned for Port Alberni

Cancer Society volunteers work behind the scenes to fundraise for tour

Man rescued from cliff on Harbour Road in Port Alberni

Fire department uses new equipment in rope rescue

Alberni Valley firefighters head to Fort St. James to assist with B.C. wildfires

‘We need to make sure first and foremost our community is protected’: Gilday

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Two hurt in car wreck on old Island Highway

Honda and Volkswagen crash at 10 p.m. Friday at highway intersection in Nanaimo

Authorities mull evacuation order for Zeballos

Smoke billowed from the steep hillsides of Zeballos on Friday evening, as… Continue reading

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Most Read