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South Florida Groups Aid Central Americans After Eta And Iota

Workers of SerCargo Express sort donations in Doral.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Cartagena
Workers of SerCargo Express sort donations in Doral.

Organizations are helping with communication efforts and donation drives as Central Americans deal with the aftermath of the two storms.

This story will be updated.

Tropical Storm Eta hit Central America about two weeks ago, and Hurricane Iota hit the region this week, causing fatal flooding and landslides that have left many people stranded or missing.

Some organizations in South Florida are reaching out to help.

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In Honduras, thousands of families have evacuated or lost their homes due to Eta and Iota.

Pedro Ponce is a coordinator at the shipping company SerCargo Express, which has been collecting donations in Miami.

“When we ship it out, once the container arrives, we take them out and then we just go to any rural place or any place that has been affected the most, and we just hand them out to people [who] need it,” he says.

He adds that people are most in need of non-perishable foods, medicine and sanitary protection items. The company also accepts clothes but no water or toilet paper.

SerCargo Express will collect donations until their shipping containers are filled. Ponce says that will likely happen next week.

In the meantime, donations can be dropped off Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The address is 1636 NW 82nd Ave., Doral, FL.

Amor Viviente churches in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties are also collecting donations of food, water, clothes and other aid to send to displaced Tropical Storm Eta and Iota victims in Honduras via shipping containers.

For more information call Pastor Gabriel Callejas at 954-822-1740.


More than 150 people in Guatemala are feared dead after mudslides caused by Hurricane Eta led to significant damage and destruction in the village of Quejá, according to the New York Times.

Lindsay McElroy is the executive assistant for the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth Beach. She says translators are keeping the concerned indigenous Mayan community informed through in English, Spanish, and the Mayan languages.

“So in our community, there’s four very popular languages other than Spanish. Popti, Mam, Q’anjob’al and Akateko,” McElroy said. “And we sent out voice messages in Popti, Mam, and Q’anjob’al, [and] Spanish so that people in our community would hear up-to-date news about what was happening with this storm, what services they needed to call, if their power went out, if there’s flooding in their area.”

McElroy says some of the volunteers who help translate the Mayan languages still have indigenous families in Guatemala. They’ve developed outreach programs to compensate for the lack of news availability in the community.

“We have in our outreach program — there are 2,000 people who received audio messages from us,” McElroy said. “And in our Escuelita and ParentChild Plus program together, that was another 250 families who got personalized phone calls throughout the storm.”

The Guatemalan-Maya Center is developing humanitarian efforts with Catholic Relief Services. According to McElroy, the majority of Guatemalan immigrants in Palm Beach County are Mayan.

Alejandra Marquez Janse is a fall intern at WLRN.
Wilkine Brutus is the Palm Beach County Reporter for WLRN. The award-winning journalist produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs. Contact Wilkine at wbrutus@wlrnnews.org
Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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