Personal stories about last year's eruption of Mt. Fuego

Posted on: 02/21/2019

Author: Ray Williams
Photographer: Ed Shapoff

Antigua and surrounding towns were hit on June 3rd, 2018 by the volcano eruption of Mt. Fuego. There were many personal tragedies from the volcano but two people in our Faith In Practice dental clinic were personally affected. Thelma, a dental assistant at Obras Hospital lived in San Miguel Los Lotes, one of the towns that was completely destroyed. Thelma happened to be at the Hospital on Sunday, June 3rd with her brother and daughter the day the volcano erupted,and were fortunate not to be at home. Thelma's two aunts and three cousins were at home and were all killed by the lava flow or from gas and smoke inhalation. One died from burns after being tranported to the hospital and one cousin was taken to a hospital in Mexico and had his leg amputated but did not survive. Thelma and her entire family lost everything so they moved to some apartments in Sab Juan del Obispo. They all still live there. Thelma is a full time employee of Obras Hospital in the dental clinic and has been a great help this week to our two dentists, Dr. David and Dr. Cary and the dental assistant, Kathy.

The dental clinic has also had an Faith In Practice volunteer all week whose name is Freddie. Freddie is a fireman in Antigua and has been trained in search and rescue operations. Freddie was deployed when Fuego erupted along with many other men in the Antigua search and rescue team. Freddie told us the story of how he and the team made their way toward the mountain after the eruption began and were stopped on the road about 3 miles from San Miguel because of lava flows and ash and rocks flying though the air. They could not get to the town to rescue people. When they arrived, the towns people were running down the roads trying to escape. Freddie and the rescue tean had to wait three days before they could even get into the town to try and find people. Unfortunately, over 200 died from the volcano eruption.

The dental clinic has been very busy this week as they started seeing patients on Sunday and will finish on Thursday. They saw 76 patients ranging in ages from 9 to 75 years old. They performed over 250 procedures, because many patients needed multiple procedures done. Dental health is quite bad in Guatemala and most people don't receive regular dental care. Many people never see a dentist. Only about 25% of the 76 patients that the Faith In Practice dentists saw this week had ever seen a dentist before.