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SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, October 20, 2005 -- Coffee Kids, an international nonprofit organization founded in 1988 to help children and families in coffee producing communities has set up three emergency relief programs for victims of Hurricane Stan in the hardest hit regions of Guatemala and Southern Mexico. Homes, roads, food crops and bridges as well as electrical and phone systems have been severely damaged throughout these important coffee farming regions. According to Founder and Executive Director, Bill Fishbein, “We’ve made arrangements for urgently needed contributions to be sent immediately to three of our longtime partner organizations: APROS in Guatemala, CAMPO in Oaxaca, Mexico and Icsur in Mexico’s State of Chiapas. These local nonprofit groups are in the best position to determine where the most urgent need is and provide immediate assistance. The funds will be used to provide food, potable water and supplies as well as repair severely damaged roads.”
“We hope that members of the international coffee trade rally immediately to support these devastated communities. The coffee farmers and their families urgently need food, potable water, shelter and supplies,” urged Fishbein.
While the damage from Hurricane Stan impacted much of Central America and parts of Southeastern Mexico, the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala was the hardest hit. Fishbein noted, “Coffee Kids sent our first wire transfer on October 13th to our partner APROS in San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala. They will use the funds to buy basic food staples and distribute them to families throughout the region.” Reports indicate that more than 100,000 people are living in shelters because vast numbers of homes have been destroyed or are too full of mud, debris and boulders. Many of the people are subsistence farmers whose crops have been completely destroyed and they have no food of their own.
Coffee Kids’ partner, María del Carmen Chavajay of APROS, described the situation, “One of the primary challenges in Guatemala is the isolation of the communities due to the roads and bridges that have been destroyed. People are unable to reach food supplies. While local municipalities are providing some aid, it is not enough.” Fishbein added, “Our contacts estimate that many of the people in the areas with the most devastation will be completely dependent upon food aid for at least 3 months.”
In Oaxaca, Mexico Coffee Kids’ partner César Morales of CAMPO reported, “The damage in the regions where we work is not comparable to the destruction in Chiapas and Guatemala where there have been many deaths and houses and villages completely destroyed. The damage in Oaxaca is from heavy rains, which have destroyed roads and left communities isolated and unable to replenish limited supplies. Some areas have machinery to clear the roads but no fuel. Crops have been damaged and some completely destroyed. People are worried about their future livelihoods. CAMPO is working to provide the necessary aid to repair roads and provide food supplies.”
In Chiapas, access to several communities is virtually impossible. Roads have been completely destroyed. Fishbein reported, “Our partners in Mexico’s state of Chiapas have told us that people are walking for days to find the nearest resources for food and information about missing relatives. Thousands have lost their homes and belongings.
Additionally, their sources of income are gone, as their crops, mainly of coffee, are destroyed. The crisis is only just beginning as illnesses have begun to spread and access to resources remains limited.”
For more information about Coffee Kids’ Hurricane Stan Relief Program or to make a donation, please visit http://www.coffeekids.org/relief/ or contact Chipper Harris at 800-344-9099, 505-820-1443 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
For Photos, go to: http://www.coffeekids.org/relief/stan/