North Dakota organization aids victims of Guatemala disaster

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A North Dakota charity has opened an emergency center for burn victims and orphaned children in Guatemala following the recent volcanic eruption in the Central American country that killed dozens of people.

The Bismarck-based God's Child Project opened the shelter at its facility in Antigua, Guatemala. Hannah Tollefsrud, the organization's community engagement coordinator, tells the Bismarck Tribune that the group converted the Casa Jackson Hospital for Malnourished Infants into a temporary triage center.

She said the organization expects to feed, clothe, shelter and provide medical assistance to thousands of people in the coming weeks.

"We will do everything in our power to help everyone that we can," she said.

The volcanic eruption Sunday surprised residents in remote mountain communities, which had little time to evacuate. At least 69 people were killed, though Guatemalan authorities expect the death toll to rise.

God's Child Project is able to provide immediate assistance with medicine and medical supplies donations from Sanford Health and Mid-Dakota Clinic that were already stored at the facility in Guatemala.

Tollefsrud said the organization also recently received hundreds of free shirts that were transported to Guatemala a few months ago. Those are now being distributed from the emergency shelter.

"For people affected by the pyroclastic flow and ash, those clean clothes are vital," Tollefsrud said.

The organization's buildings were also damaged by the searing ash and mud that will need extensive repair after the group provides emergency care.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,