Guatemala City has the largest garbage dump throughout Central America. There are 2,500 “official” recyclers that work in the dump. It is very dangerous and difficult place to work. Many workers have lost their lives recycling for their country and for their families. It is not uncommon for landslides to occur within the dump. When they do occur they can be a deadly force, trapping recyclers between and underneath heaps of trash.
Tragedy struck in Zone 3 of Guatemala City last Wednesday. Without any sign or warning the bottom plot of the dump, with many recyclers, began to slide. The landslide carried away recyclers and swallowed at least one garbage truck. The “official” numbers from the government is that 4 recyclers lost their lives, 60 were missing, and many others injured.
Because of your generosity and the generosity of others like For the Love of Missions, God has provided the resources to help a few of those affected by the landslide. Saturday we were able to meet with 16 families, ones that were most affected. Half of these families lost a brother, a son or a husband in the landslide. Some are survivors. The rest for different reasons were not able to work that day; otherwise it could had been worse for them.
It’s a miracle that one recycler, Josue, is alive today. We visited him twice Saturday and his story is heartbreaking. When the landslide occurred he was buried from head to hip under tons of trash. Being 15 feet under the trash, he was not able to breath. He was bleeding from his nose, ears and mouth when he was taken to the hospital. He remembers holding somebody’s leg who was begging him to not let go. Then a few minutes later another slide happened and he could not hold this person’s leg anymore. Josue doesn’t think this person made it out alive. Josue passed out he doesn’t know for how long, but when he woke up there were 6 dead bodies around him. Later on Josue remembers people digging for him. He was taken to the hospital where they did general check up but was discharged soon after.
He has bruises in face, head and neck. We have a doctor friend who checked him Saturday afternoon. The doctor says he has some injures, but tests are needed to confirm whether or not there are severe internal damage in his head and brain as well as his eyes and ears. Josue is one of several stories out there. He is taking pain shots and injections to control his nerves as well as to maintain the infection in his head from getting worse.