Fuego and San Miguel Deuñas

[Blog post from Guatemala written March 20th, 2013]:

"Spent the day documenting the daily activities of a family that lives in a very poor area of a town called San Miguel Dueñas.  Single mom of five kids, the 14 year old boy works construction all day to make money for the family and goes to school all night.  She sells tortilla's to make a little extra money, at most $2 a day.  Only two of the five kids go to school.  She can't pay for the third school aged boy.  I have about a 25 frame picture story of the day spent with them.  Still working on it.  I feel like in order to really document this family, it would take repeated visits over the course of a few weeks or possibly months.  So for this project, it is just a day in the life of  a family in need.

(note to photographer friends: these are very raw and un-edited...sleep deprivation has overtaken me)."

 

On Monday, Volcan Fuego or 'Fire Volcano' erupted in Guatemala with one of the most violent volcanic eruption in more than 100 years, spewing ash, mud, gas and lava into surrounding communities.  San Miguel Dueñas was one of the towns hit the hardest.  I spent a few days there in 2013 along with another photographer friend, documenting the lives of 2 families living there.  Living in the ring of fire, volcanic eruptions are no new thing for many Guatemalans.  Fuego erupts repeatedly, puffing gas and smoke every 15 to 20 minutes.  But this.  This was no puff of smoke.  This was a massive eruption followed only hours later by a rocking 5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the coastlines of Central America.  Many of you are reading headlines, watching news, and trying to get a grip on the damage and what can be done.  And to some of you, it's old news, considering all the other hot off the press events right now in the world.  But for the past few days I've been searching for photos, scanning maps, and seeing if there is anything I can do to find out if the families and children I spent time with in 2013 and again in 2015 are alive.  This has hit home in my heart and it's so hard to be distant from it and to hear news from afar.   Guatemala is hurting and quite possibly, so are the families and kids in these pictures.  Quite possibly their homes are buried, crops destroyed, family members dead, children dead.  I don't know.  And that's what makes it hard, to be heartbroken, but essentially helpless.  

To all of you in Guatemala that I have called my friends, eaten with, had drinks with, told stories to, cried with, ridden in the backs of flatbed trucks with, dug through trash with, played soccer in the street with, ate dulces and pan together and allowed me to dig into your lives with my camera: may the Lord give you peace in the midst of this chaos.  When the smoke clears, may you find a way to continue on.  May you find a way to honor and remember those you have lost and may you be helped and strengthened by the good of others.

 

[Gallery from 2013.  San Miguel Dueñas, Guatemala]