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Monday, December 5, 2016
Twickenham parishioners give hope to hurricane survivors
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¬†Funds raised by parishioners from St Margaret's Parish in Twickenham, have provided vital clean water systems in four Guatemalan villages that were devastated by Hurricane Stan last October. The parish raised £15,000 for the Catholic aid agency CAFOD as part of their Lenten project. The money has enabled the survivors of Hurricane Stan to rebuild their lives. The Guatemalan communities have now sent photos and letters of thanks to the parish. Parish priest Fr John Formby said: "We were delighted to hear from the communities and see the photographs of the water pumps in action. We hope to provide a little display in our Parish Hall so that generous parishioners will see what their efforts have achieved during Lent 2006. The parish has a long-standing tradition of support for developing countries and Lent 2006 was no exception." Two of the three Lenten project co-ordinators had spent time in Guatemala, one of whom, Lynn Haanen, was there when the hurricane struck on 4 October devastating a third of the country. A visiting priest also told the parish of his own experiences during that horrendous time. It was their estimonies that persuaded the parish to adopt Guatemala as their main beneficiary. Lynn said: "I was delighted when the parish chose to send the bulk of the money to Guatemala. I was there when Hurricane Stan hit and it was truly terrifying. I saw for myself the horrific damage it caused. But I was humbled by how the Guatemalan communities pulled together during this tragedy and all without outside help. The poorest of the poor were giving anything they had to spare for those even worse off. Now, through St Margaret's, we have been able to show them that the outside world is thinking about them." CAFOD's head of Latin America Clare Dixon said: "This is an amazing amount of money that has made a very real difference to a large number of people The people have thanked St Margaret's themselves but as CAFOD we would also like to add our thanks. There is much more work to do in Guatemala." Meanwhile, other areas in Guatemala are slowly recovering. Roads that were washed away by the storms have reopened but thousands of people are still living in refugee camps. CAFOD partners are continuing to provide practical support, such as laying on transport so people can sell their goods at the market and make a living, as well as spiritual support, through their community radio stations up and down the country. One of these stations, Radio Balam in Cabrican, is also involved in a project to reforest denuded hillsides.
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