Following Hurricane Eta, Cure Violence Global’s Director of Training for Central and Latin America Guadalupe Cruz traveled to Honduras to help CVG’s San Pedro Sula-based site rebuild the community. During Guadalupe’s trip to Honduras, the country was hit by Hurricane Iota. These two Category Four storms caused massive mudslides and flooding, devastating the country.
Cruz recounts how shocked she was by the wreckage. In one area she witnessed a horrifying scene of a flooded cemetery that became a pool filled with bodies floating over where the graves once were. Most homes were destroyed, leading survivors of the devastation, including CVG team-workers, to live in makeshift storm shelters at high schools. There was no water or electricity and hardly any food in most areas around San Pedro Sula. The COVID-19 pandemic and the continued violence that has impacted the country compounded the disastrous situation.
To help the San Pedro Sula community, Cruz purchased essential items such as water, masks, and boots to donate. She stressed that in addition to the lack of basic services, there is so much water and mud still standing from the storm that individuals require boots, which most do not have. CVG’s violence interrupters’ credibility in the community allowed them to aid in the distribution of these goods, as well as in other relief efforts. Many children and young adults whose parents and relatives had gone missing during the disaster turned to CVG’s workers for assistance in reconnecting them with their loved ones, a job these brave men and women took on when possible. The CVG site was also trusted to distribute food among people living in the shelters. Cruz recalls an instance when the violence interrupters distributed 150 donated pizzas at a shelter. Though this amount of food was generous, it still was not enough to feed the residents forced to seek refuge at the site.
Despite the wonderful work CVG’s team is doing to aid its community in this humanitarian crisis, Cruz notes that “the violence continues.” CVG’s violence interrupters have reported that the move into these makeshift storm shelters has led to an increase in domestic violence and child abuse. Additionally, several groups in San Pedro Sula have been exploiting the shelters for precious resources, such as water.
While CVG’s team works tirelessly to combat the violence and take on the new task of providing essential services to the community, many of them have also been deeply impacted by these two record-breaking storms. Though several violence interrupters have secured temporary housing outside of shelters, they are living in an apartment with 37 residents to a unit. The CVG team has been equally impacted by this devastation, but their calling for violence prevention and community service has nevertheless led them to increase their work within the community. To help combat these new spikes in domestic violence, Guadalupe Cruz also trained the existing team on strategies to combat violence in shelters during her trip.
Since the trip, Cruz has returned yet again to the Honduras site to continue providing aid to the community. It will take a long time for San Pedro Sula and the rest of the country to recover, but Cure Violence Global remains dedicated to continuing its work in violence prevention and revitalization no matter the circumstances.