UNICEF helps Guatemalan children start again

“I ran as fast as I could, I was so scared.” 7-year-old Felipe Neftaly stands close to his mother, holding her hand. On June 3rd, the Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupted, affecting more than 650,000 children, living nearby. Felipe helps his mum ...

“I ran as fast as I could, I was so scared.” 7-year-old Felipe Neftaly stands close to his mother, holding her hand. On June 3rd, the Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupted, affecting more than 650,000 children, living nearby.

Felipe helps his mum to wash clothes donated to her and her family. Photo: UNICEFGuatemala/Rodrigo Mussapp

For Felipe and his family the eruption has meant unimaginable devastation. So strong and fast was the lava flow, that much of Felipe’s community was buried under 10 feet of boiling mud, stones and sand. Many of his family’s friends and neighbours had no time to react.

The pyroclastic flow destroyed everything in its path. Photo: UNICEFGuatemala/Rodrigo Mussapp

Felipe and his mother were two of the lucky ones, managing to scale up a nearby mountain in time.

After the eruption had subsided, they were taken to a temporary shelter in a nearby school. There among the crowded rooms they searched for loved ones and other people from their village.

Children and adults receiving humanitarian aid at a temporary shelter in the El Rodeo community. Photo: UNICEFGuatemala/Rodrigo Mussapp

Throughout Guatemala have been coming together to support young children like Felipe and his family, gathering food and supplies to send to the region. Meanwhile, in the face of the magnitude of the tragedy the Guatemalan Government has requested the support of the international community.

Felipe lines up and receives donated shoes at the shelter. Photo: UNICEFGuatemala/Rodrigo Mussapp

UNICEF is working, in cooperation with partners, to provide essential support and services to the more than 650,000 children and adolescents living in the areas affected by the eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano.

Relief workers get information from men and women at a temporary shelter. Photo: UNICEFGuatemala/Rodrigo Mussapp

On top of focusing on the basics of water, sanitation and nutrition, UNICEF works to help children to start again after the disaster. Separated children are reunited with their families, safe and child-friendly spaces are set up in the shelters and programmes are now underway to ensure children can return to school as soon as possible.

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