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Quake victim: Baptist parcels ‘all that is keeping us alive’

ARMENIA, Colombia (BP)–Over a small open fire, Diana Geraldo stoops to stir the plantain (a banana-like fruit) as it boils in a smoke-stained pot. Her tattered clothes and the makeshift shelter give stark testimony to her desperate situation. Her three adult children, all mentally retarded, watch with anticipation as she prepares the morning meal.
An earthquake just 10 days earlier, measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale, destroyed their home along with thousands of others. With more than 1,000 people killed and hundreds still missing, life in Armenia, Colombia, would never be the same.
Search-and-rescue teams converged on this mountain city from all over the world to sift through the piles of rubble that were once the homes of many of Armenia’s citizens. For days following the quake, specially trained dogs led rescuers to those trapped beneath the ruins. Even now, debris clutters the streets as soldiers stand by with weapons ready to prevent looting. Heavy machinery has moved in to finish the demolition process with all hope lost for any more survivors.
Diana counts herself blessed that she and her family escaped serious injury. However, now comes the struggle for daily survival. She and her three children share their wood and plastic shanty with another family of four. When asked about her diet, she shares how plantain is the breakfast meal. She then explains, “In the afternoons, we fix soup by putting together whatever we have. And that is what we eat.”
In the face of such tragedy, one would expect to find Diana clutched in the throngs of despair. However, her smile and her joy defy all human logic. Diana is a Christian and a member of the Gethsemanee Baptist Church. The church stands just across the street from the small city park that Diana and 240 other people must call home for now.
The church building is badly damaged and will have to be destroyed. Until then, what is left of the building serves as a distribution center for emergency food packets. As a truck arrives with another load of food, volunteers line up to help unload. A soldier stands by to guard against looters with his M16 perched on his hip.
Thanks to the commitment of Gethsemanee’s members, and help from the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, food parcels are being shared with many quake victims. When asked what the food has meant to her and her family, Diana unequivocally states, “The help is very special. It is all that is keeping us alive. Without it, we would not be here.” Clutching her frail hands to her heart, she declared, “We are very thankful to the people who sent the food. I know they have done it because they love the Lord and because they love people.”
No doubt, there will be many struggles for Diana and her people in the months ahead, struggles that Southern Baptists will be helping to ease through their support of the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund.
Gifts for Southern Baptists’ Colombia earthquake relief efforts can be designated for Colombia relief/World Hunger Fund and mailed to the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty, 901 Commerce St., Suite 550, Nashville, TN 37203. Telephone inquiries can be made to (615) 244-2495.

    About the Author

  • Steven S. Nelson