Update on Honduras and Guatemala

Developing a Path Forward - Disaster Aid Canada Forms Disaster Aid Regional Collaborative

DAC partners with Disaster Aid USA and Guatemalan and Honduran Rotary Clubs
For more details visit:


Disaster Aid Canada Progress Report on Guatemala and Honduras

Gerry Beltgens, Executive Director Disaster Aid Canada - January 26, 2021

In the fall of 2020 Honduras and Guatemala were hit by named hurricanes Eta and Iota between November 4 and 17, 2020. The rain and wind was so severe that some homes were flooded up to four times in the space of a few weeks. 5.2 Million people were affected in Central America and the Caribbean. 1.5 million people were directly affected in Honduras and Guatemala.

On November 25 2020, Disaster Aid Canada held a Zoom conference on how Rotary Clubs could collaborate to provide relief to these two nations. In attendance were 22 representatives of Rotary Districts 4250, 5020, 7080 and 7080, representatives from Disaster Aid USA and Disaster Aid UK & I. Also attending were representatives from Rotary Clubs in Vista Hermosa, Guatemala, Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and Comayagua in Honduras.
The meeting started with status reports from the four Clubs in the affected areas. The impact on all of the communities was compounded by the pandemic, the rising number of infections and the lockdown orders of the governments. Whole villages had been flooded and at least one entire village was washed away in a landslide. 
While it is clear that the impact of the compounded storms and disease is beyond the capacity of Rotarians to solve themselves it is also clear that we must do something. It is overwhelming to work in disaster relief when so much of the world is struggling with calamities.
Initially it was felt that we would be able to ship relief materials via containers through Rotary World Helps. This may still happen but it is more of a long term project. 
The main outcome of the conference was to connect people from Canadian Rotary Clubs with people in Honduras and Guatemala and to introduce Disaster Aid Canada and USA with districts that were not aware of the work we do. Our long term plan is to continue to provide disaster and emergency relief as we are able to but also to convene workshops and conferences that bring organisations together to work on longer term and sustainable solutions.
One of the outcomes of the November conference was for Disaster Aid Canada to donate $1,000.00 US to each of the affected Rotary Clubs in attendance to help the poorest and worst hit in their communities with food aid and some treats for the children for Christmas. We also provided $2,000.00 to the Rotary Club of Costalegre to help with refurbishing and replenishing supplies in the flooded out community of Melaque Mexico
Another outcome from the conference was that Disaster Aid Canada has decided to focus our own work for the next year in the Mexico and Central American corridor while continuing to support other members of Disaster Aid International to provide financial support in their areas of the world. 
On December 15 Disaster Aid Canada held a follow up Zoom conference that was attended by 41 people. Dr Elaine Hernandez as the Keynote speaker as well as speakers from the Canadian Red Cross, Central America, a Rotarian and Lead Economist with the World Bank, Director of the Global Hunger and Migration Project at the Baylor Collaborative, Senior Director of Business Development, Pan American Development Foundation, a member of The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisors. working with vulnerable populations of primary school children, indigenous women and marginalized communities in the south coast of Guatemala and the Past President, Rotary Club of Comaygua, District Foundation Cadre member, Master's Degree in Local Development, currently he also leads the service projects committee. 
Again this conference was mainly to introduce people currently working in the field with each other and their projects. A video of the conference is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Ybc1iRc2clY
While we were going through the process of identifying community needs, Fernando Martinez of the Rotary Club of Comayagua brought up a project that needed help immediately. The small village of La Mata had lost its water system in the storms. The swollen river had undercut the bank and destroyed the water retention dam, the filtration system and much of the pipe and part of the road to the town.
The original water system had been built by the local Rotarians with the support of a Rotary Club in Comox BC, one hour north of my office. I contacted Brian Mather of the Club who was immediately interested in helping again. DAC requested that Fernando and the Comayagua Club fill in a project outline and grant application which he did. The project will require a $10,000.00 US investment and hundreds of hours of volunteer skilled and unskilled labour.

With seed capital from Comayagua and Disaster Aid Canada and the financial support of the Rotary Clubs of Comox, Victoria Harbourside and the Rotary Club of Woodstock-Oxford were able to fund the project over the period of a couple of weeks. This project is now slated to start in the middle of February 2021.
This water project is an excellent model of a small project that makes a big difference. It also brings together the residents of a small mountain community, local Rotarians and the resources of Canadian Rotary Clubs and Disaster Aid Canada. When this project is finished and the final analysis and report is completed it will be used as an example of collaboration in local community rebuilding. 
On January 26 we are holding our third Zoom conference on Honduras and Guatemala as we work out strategies to build local capacity and find projects that we can tackle together.
In Late february disaster Aid Canada has Registered for the Districts 4250 and 4240 Rotary Project Fair and hopeful will be able to present some of the work we have been doing in the region while seeing what projects are in progress.
If you are interested in learning more, visit our Disaster Aid Regional Collaborative Page
December 15 Conference on Honduras and Guatemala
Welcome and Overview
This meeting is about making connections, strengthening collaboration and enhancing sustainability.
Central America needs help now but unless there is collaboration on a long term plan, we are but a band-aid. 
Our focus for this meeting is on identifying mechanisms of effective support for Honduras and Guatemala post-hurricane and post-COVID. Rotarians have been working there for years and making a difference for many communities. 

What is the role of Rotary over the coming decade? What resources are available from Rotary International? With whom can we partner to be more effective and create synergy? Which organization can act as a backbone to a collective impact council?
Program Hosts: Gerry Beltgens, Executive Director Disaster Aid Canada, Rotary Club of Ladysmith,
Master of Arts Leadership and Training 2004 Royal Roads University. 

Co-host and Keynote Speaker: Dr. Elaine Hernandez, Rotary Club of Mission, Texas, and Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty.
Lessons Learned and Future Opportunities for Investment in Honduras and Guatemala 
Introduction of Speakers: Subject to change

The Silent Emergency: Responding to Hurricanes Eta and Iota - Lai-Ling Lee, Head of Region - Americas, Canadian Red Cross

Rotary Action Group on Refugees, Forced Displacement and Migration - Quentin Wodon, the World Bank, Rotary Club of Washington Global

The Role of Academia in Addressing Migration and Reintegration - Dr. Victor Hinojosa, Baylor University

Reintegrating Returned Honduran Youth Back into their Community - Shadia Garcia Hilsaca, Rotary Club of Tegucigalpa Sur

Situation on the ground in Honduras/Guatemala - Josue Murillo Rivera, Pan American Development Foundation

Situation in Comayagua - Fernando Martinez, Rotary Club of Comayagua, COPECO, Municipal Emergency Commission
Topics for the Panel Discussion
  • Benefits of Collaboration - Building a network
  • Migration - the impact on families and communities
  • Impact of Climate Change and the Pandemic
  • Alternatives for youth, employment instead of gangs
  • Education and training as a way forward
  • How can Rotarians help with the big picture
  • Questions
Conclude Panel Discussion with Next Steps for moving forward
Program Hosts:
Dr. Elaine Hernandez is a seasoned public health professional with experience in emergency disaster planning, infectious disease control and prevention, maternal and child health promotion, food security, and international development project design and implementation.  She has served with the American Red Cross as Health Delegate to Mexico and with the Canadian Red Cross as Delegate to Honduras, and is currently the Regional Director in South Texas for the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty.
Elaine serves as the current President of the Rotary Club of Mission, the District 5930 International Service Coordinator, a member of the Rotary Foundation's Cadre of Technical Advisors, and a Board member of the new Rotary Fellowship on Global Development. She was recently named the 2020 Rotary Alumni Global Service Award recipient and her story is presented in the December 2020 edition of the Rotary Magazine.
Gerald (Gerry) Beltgens, Executive Director Disaster Aid Canada, Master of Arts, Leadership and Training 2004 Royal Roads University, District 5020 Team Leader, Crisis Management External Environment, Rotary Club of Ladysmith BC, President 2016-2017,  Rotary Club of Tsawwassen, Vice President 2008, Shelterbox Program Coordinator, 2007-2009, Delta Chamber of Commerce, Director 2001-2009, President 2004-2005. 
Post Secondary Trades and Training Consultant working with First Nations, various levels of Government, the Canadian Home Builders Association and the BC Chamber of Commerce. (Semi Retired) Avid Boater, Writer and Photographer.