On October 3, 1998 Hurricane Mitch killed almost an entire community. Those who survived had nothing left but the clothes on their backs. Hurricane Mitch stopped over the community of Santa Maria; for almost two weeks it did not stop raining, causing a mudslide. The scale of this disaster is similar to what is going on in Haiti at the moment. Because this community was up in the mountains (pictured above, specifically the lighter streak), many people did not know the extent of the damage going on and also making it difficult for rescue and relief agencies.
Although Hurricane Mitch happened 11 years ago, those who survived are still struggling to manage. Last week, we went and visited the Santa Maria community and I was able to interview many of the families affected. One woman I talked with lost all four of her daughters, her parents, and many other relatives. She was one of the 11 people who were on the mountain during Hurricane Mitch who survived.
The Santa Maria community was helped by relief agencies. They were all built and given new homes. This was great because it provided them with a roof over their head. The problem was and still is, they don't have a way to make money to survive. The Santa Maria community was all farmers. Along with all their other possessions, their land was destroyed. Eleven years later, some have found enough work to have beans for dinner every night, while others wonder how they are going to find food for the next day because there is no land for them to farm.
There are many sad stories to be told, but all of them have an amazing faith that has brought them through. The shack you see above, started as a table outside of the school in Santa Maria. Petrona, a survivor of Hurricane Mitch, realized she could make a profit by selling snacks to the students. A year later, she has a building, and is able to survive off the profits. Not only does she survive, she helps many other families by proving work and giving them money to live.