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The Devastating Effects of Earthquakes

Children observe their destroyed houses after the earthquake that hit the country.
Children from Guatemala observe their destroyed houses after the earthquake that hit the country in November 2012, affecting more than 1.3 million people.

Few natural disasters can match the destructive power of earthquakes. Often striking with little notice, these events can reduce entire cities to rubble in mere minutes and pose a significant threat to human life, sometimes causing tsunamis in their aftermath. In addition to causing widespread devastation and casualties, earthquakes can also disrupt a country's infrastructure, making aid operations and rescue missions particularly difficult.

Many of the countries in which ChildFund works are vulnerable and have little earthquake preparedness, including Guatemala and India. Without the support of donors to our Emergency Action Fund, it would be much more difficult to provide support to families affected by these natural disasters.

Rebuilding in Guatemala

In November of last year, a powerful earthquake struck Guatemala. Registering 7.2 magnitude, the Guatemala earthquake destroyed homes, damaged roads and other vital infrastructure and displaced thousands of families. We worked closely with Guatemala's National Emergency Committee to provide disaster relief to families affected by the Guatemala earthquake, and in the weeks following the disaster, helped rebuild homes and provided disaster relief to children in need and their families.

In addition to the serious physical danger posed by earthquakes, emotional and psychological scars can last a lifetime for children if these issues aren't addressed. Without timely psychosocial support, children can suffer from a range of mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I felt that we were going to die," said Maria, a 12-year-old girl living in San Andres Chapil in San Marcos, a community affected by the Guatemalan quake. "I saw how my house was falling down. We were lucky it was during the day; if it had been at night, only God knows what would have happened."

Following the earthquake in Guatemala, ChildFund worked to ensure that children and their families could rebuild their lives. We helped repair 429 homes and reconstruct an additional 124 houses, repaired or restored 25 community hygiene and sanitation systems, and provided psychosocial support to more than 12,500 children. None of this would have been possible without donations to the ChildFund Emergency Action Fund, which allows us to focus funding where it's needed after a natural disaster.

Providing Urgent Aid

One of our primary objectives in countries affected by natural disasters like earthquakes is to provide families with the supplies and support they need in the days and weeks following a disaster.

The first few hours and days after an earthquake are crucial for disaster relief organizations to take action. The longer it takes to provide aid to families affected by these disasters, the greater the likelihood that children and their families will suffer or die. This is why ChildFund's Emergency Action Fund is so important. By making a donation to this fund, you can help us distribute aid, such as food, clean water, blankets and other essentials, to those who need it most. In addition, your generosity will enable us to provide health care services, including psychosocial support, to children in need affected by earthquakes and other natural disasters.

One of the first things ChildFund does when a natural disaster strikes is work with our local partner organizations to account for the children enrolled in child sponsorship and other programs. At this point, we strategize how our resources can be used most effectively and begin operations to distribute disaster relief and support to affected families. Within 72 hours of a disaster, we establish child-centered spaces where children can recover from their ordeal and begin to process their feelings about the event. In the long term, we help rebuild homes and other structures, often with support for disaster preparedness that will help them withstand future earthquakes or floods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated September as National Preparedness Month, so there has never been a better time to make a donation to ChildFund's Emergency Action Fund and allow us to provide aid to those who need it most in the wake of natural disasters.

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