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

Supportive housing first step to healing: BC Housing CEO

Shayne Ramsay explains changes to Rutland’s McCurdy development

West Kelowna motorcycle crash causes two impaired driving investigations

The driver’s injuries, although serious, are not believed to be life-threatening in nature

Okanagan man grows tomato with an… unusual shape

The man could only conclude that it was a decidedly “male” tomato.

Kelowna baby snatcher pleads guilty

Harold Giffen Clarkson Nyren is sentenced to two years probation

Big Wreck announces two Okanagan shows

The American-Canadian band will be playing in Vernon and Kelowna on Oct. 29 and Nov. 3

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

$250,000 worth of property stolen from Okanagan storage

Police are investigating after a possible theft on the weekend

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Vehicle collides into Okanagan home and drives away

Fencing, landscaping suffer significant damage and minor injury to house on Vernon’s Okanagan Avenue

Serious injuries sustained in Highway 1 collisions west of Salmon Arm

Air ambulance needed at two accident scenes that closed highway Monday evening

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Most Read