Locals head to Guatemala for recovery effort, aid

MURRAY, KY – The death toll is rising in Guatemala after a volcanic eruption. At least 99 people are dead, but hundreds of more people are still missing. As critical patients are being airlifted to other countries for medical help, 16 people from Murray are headed to Guatemala.

Their bags are packed and ready to go, but most of this stuff isn’t for them.

“The volcanic ash actually reached out – in our understanding – to Chimaltanango, which is where Bethels Ministries International is located,” Trip organizer, Tim Fortner said. “With that concern, we just put it out on Facebook and social media for people, if they can donate dust masks.”

They are a part of a mission trip. Fortner said the community has donated 1100 dust masks. “We don’t think we’ll need those, but whatever we don’t use we will leave for the missionaries.”

Fortner and trip leader Kim Crouch have been to Guatemala so many times they call it a second home.

“The first time we went it was just a total moment of our eyes were opened,” Crouch said. “The Bible speaks about that clearly it says ‘once your eyes have been opened you can’t pretend that you don’t know what you saw. You can’t forget about it.'”

They are a part of Bethel Ministries International, which is a mission group whose main purpose is to bring mobility to disabled people in Guatemala.

“They actually have mobility in the first time in many years or their life,” Fortner said. Because of how poor many people in the country are, Fortner explained that disabled people often grow up without any device to help them move around.

Crouch said trip is about helping some start over completely. “This time is more… this time is hard,” Crouch said, getting emotional. “With the volcanic eruptions, to see a country that you love and people that you love and people that you know were already hit so hard in life and have so very little. you know entire villages have been wiped out there.”

16 locals will be in the struggling country for a week trying to make a difference. They left at 2 AM on Sunday.

Crouch said you can help their mission by donating wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility devices like those. They also take money donations. For donation inquiries, email Crouch at Kmoodycrouch@gmail.com.

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