Elsa Marina Amaya was just a child when her entire village of Waller Bordo, Honduras, was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. The destruction was so complete that everyone carried their few remaining belongings across the river to rebuild the village on higher ground.
Today Elsa is 30, and she has three young daughters of her own — ages 9, 3 and 6 months. When back-to-back storms Eta and Iota swept through her village last fall, they brought a level of devastation that Elsa and her neighbors had hoped they'd never see again.
Even before the storms hit less than two weeks apart in November 2020, Elsa was struggling to make ends meet. In the past, she has provided for her family by working as a cook. But when COVID-19 reached Central America last spring, all the kitchens closed and her income dried up. By the time Eta and Iota arrived, Elsa had been unable to find work for months — making it a struggle to feed herself and her children.
A perfect storm of poverty, natural disaster and COVID-19
Poverty, natural disaster and a global pandemic are all enormous hardships, and Elsa faced all of them at once. When we met her in the aftermath of the storms, she said her biggest needs were "food, diapers, milk, medicine and vitamins" for her children. In other words, she needed the basics for her family's health and survival.
And Elsa wasn't alone. The storms' heavy rains completely wiped out the village's primary livelihoods — corn and palm oil production — leaving families with no idea how they'd feed their children or pay their bills in the months to come. Others in nearby Choloma lost their homes and were forced to seek shelter in schools and public buildings. Many of these shelters lacked running water and sanitation, and most were vastly overcrowded — making the risks of contracting COVID-19 even greater in an area where basic health care is hard to come by.
Thank you for protecting families most affected by Eta and Iota
Thanks to our generous donors, Corus World Health was able to ensure Elsa's family and hundreds of others had access to face masks, hand sanitizer and information about social distancing and other ways to reduce their risks of becoming infected with COVID-19. With roads flooded and health centers overwhelmed in the wake of disaster, increasing preventive measures became even more urgent to offer the best chance of health and survival.
Families like Elsa's also received packages of emergency food, including rice, beans, sugar, milk and salt, to keep them nourished for the next six weeks. Other partners in the Corus family provided tools and building materials to help people rebuild their homes, as well as support for farmers to clean up their land and recover their crops.
While the recovery process is still ongoing, your generosity was the first to arrive, reaching these families when they needed it most. Thank you for providing protection and support to hundreds of families like Elsa's in the midst of their perfect storm.