An Interview with Katie Taylor, Executive Director of PADF

Repost from the interview by Terry Inskip of the OAS Federal Credit Union.

Katie Taylor on a visit to the Colombia FUPAD office.

Katie Taylor on a visit to the Colombia FUPAD office.

Tell me a little about the origins of PADF and the work it does.

PADF started back in 1962 as part of the Alliance for Progress in the Americas, the result of the joint vision of president John F. Kennedy and the Organization of American States, that neighbors can work together to solve development issues and support the most vulnerable. Using the expression ‘a rising tide’, the idea was that if we could promote peace and development it would be good for everyone.

And that vision is more relevant today, if anything: even if we’ve experienced wonderful economic development over the past 55 years, there is still tremendous inequality, political turmoil, such as in Venezuela; and there are new forces at work that we had not seen vividly in the past, such as climate change and how to adapt to it, how to build resilient communities around the hemisphere and the world.

I think the PADF is uniquely positioned, focused as we are on this region, Latin America and the Caribbean to have the broad view of what needs to be done; and, we’re partnered with all the right stakeholders: governments, the private sector, local, NGOs, and communities, all the stakeholders that must come together to address these complex issues in a sustainable way.

Is there or are there currently any PADF projects that personally hit a nerve with you, in a good way. Something that made you feel that PADF was making a difference in the hemisphere.

Definitely. There are actually several. I wouldn’t have joined the Foundation if I hadn’t been taken by it. I see this work as something that is going to engage my mind, soul and heart, and there are several projects right now that do that.

One is literally in our back yard. I’m referring to the disaster in Puerto Rico. We have a grant from PepsiCo to do recovery and reconstruction, and part of the work that I’ve gotten personally involved with is trying to figure out what is going on, on the island, and to figure out how we can be most helpful. Not just on immediate response, where a lot of people have jumped in, but on the reforms needed partners for reconstruction, so that the island can be remade better than it was before. This is an aspirational vision of mine.

And, of course, while Puerto Rico has three and a half million people, and is one of the largest islands hit, let’s not forget about the people of Antigua and Barbuda, or the people of Dominica, or the people in Mexico affected by the earthquakes. In this “summer of disasters” it falls on us in every way to be there for people.

Another project that strikes me personally is in Northern Brazil, where PADF is supporting some of the indigenous population fleeing Venezuela. The situation in Venezuela is becoming increasingly dire, and we’re providing in a small way: a school, and a clinic built in repurposed shipping containers, helping these people who so much need it, trying to remove the strain they’re placing on the local community where they are right now. Now they can receive basic primary healthcare and schooling -some of them have never been to school before, children or adults- as these people live a very heart-rending humanitarian crisis.

These refugees represent a much smaller group than those fleeing into Colombia but, maybe because they are indigenous, they have not registered on the mental map, if you wish, of crisis management. This is why we work to help them.

I could go on; we’re working on democracy and self-governance throughout South America, we also work with youth and local law enforcement in programs for crime prevention, to help keep youth in schools and out of gangs, by creating opportunities for them. These issues are crucial across the hemisphere, including the United States.

How would you describe the Foundation’s culture?

Flexible, nimble, a staff that’s incredible. I am so impressed with the people here. They go above and beyond their work descriptions, they are hard-working, committed and passionate about their work.

Part of what I love already working here is the big Latino family feeling. We’re a family. Even though I’ve only been at PADF a short time, I feel adopted, people talk to me about all sorts of things. They have all sorts of traditions, like Thanksgiving lunch, and Christmas gift-giving, and dressing up for Halloween. I can’t wait to put on a costume!

Read the entire interview here.

How a Flood-Prone Community Built Safer Streets for Vulnerable Families

By Avelene Chuang, Diplomatic Fellow at PADF. She works with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of China (Taiwan). Before joining PADF, she served as a desk officer on Thailand and Myanmar affairs at the ministry. At PADF, she is especially focused on supporting projects sponsored by Taiwan.

A Guatemalan community is celebrating something that's made the whole community safer: a paved road and walkway.

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El Campanero is a low-income community in Mixco, Guatemala that is highly vulnerable to flooding and landslides. Instead of properly draining away, torrential rains erode the community’s steep muddy paths and create unsafe walking and transportation conditions for those who live along the steep embankments, including the elderly, young children, people with disabilities, and disadvantaged families. For thousands of Guatemalans living in poor and marginalized communities like El Campanero, the rainy season poses a serious danger to the residents’ lives, their homes, and prospects for a better future.

Guatemala is among the world’s most vulnerable countries to disasters. In Guatemala City alone, over 800,000 people are considered at high risk to landslides. Because of the country’s rugged terrain, many communities are built on precariously steep hillsides and are considered particularly vulnerable to disasters as a result of heavy rain, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanoes.

On September 23, 2017, community members inaugurated a newly paved road constructed largely by the community members themselves. For the first time, they can climb up and down concrete stairs using a secure handrail and walk along a road with drainage constructed to withstand the next severe storm.

For more than 500 of the neighborhood’s residents, the new road means improved access to their homes. It also means a weight lifted off their shoulders. Now, whenever rain falls it will be efficiently channeled down the hillside through high-capacity drainage canals and into the ravine below. Previously, the rain would have saturated the ground, eroded the soil, and toppled homes perched along the hillside. Community members on the steep hillside no longer have to live in fear of such events.

John Lai, Taiwanese Ambassador to Guatemala, celebrates with local leaders and PADF at the ribbon cutting ceremony on September 23.

John Lai, Taiwanese Ambassador to Guatemala, celebrates with local leaders and PADF at the ribbon cutting ceremony on September 23.

PADF carried out this infrastructure project with generous financial support from Taiwan. Through its project “Yo Me Preparo” (I’m Getting Prepared, in English), PADF has worked closely with the Municipality of Mixco to help residents become more resilient to disasters. With Taiwan’s assistance, PADF improved the ability of 36,000 people across Mixco to prepare for and recover more quickly from disasters. This work focused on building disaster resistant infrastructure, providing training to disaster response teams, and organizing disaster preparedness and response brigades. PADF investments also allowed residents of vulnerable communities to become certified disaster responders within the Guatemalan natural disaster response system (CONRED). PADF led community engagement and discussion forums that enabled residents to identify, map, and prioritize disaster risks and to develop their own strategies to reduce those risks.

Community members organized to widen the road, preparing it for pavement.

Community members organized to widen the road, preparing it for pavement.

Similar to Guatemala, Taiwan is highly vulnerable to landslides as it is regularly hit by typhoons and earthquakes. In fact, a World Bank report also places Taiwan as one of the world’s most at-risk countries to natural hazards. In light of this, communities across Taiwan have formed disaster preparedness and response brigades. These brigades are highly organized, trained, and equipped to deal with life-threatening events. Taiwan has also made substantial investments in disaster resistant infrastructure–including roads, bridges, and high-capacity drainage systems. These investments reduce the negative effects of disasters and allow the Taiwanese people to bounce back more quickly from extreme events.

As Taiwan has developed its own disaster resistant communities, it is also committed to helping international communities to mitigate the effects of disasters. Taiwan has partnered with PADF to sponsor disaster risk reduction projects across Latin America and the Caribbean, including in Haiti, Honduras, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, and Guatemala.

John Lai, Taiwanese Ambassador to Guatemala, delivers a speech at the inauguration ceremony.

John Lai, Taiwanese Ambassador to Guatemala, delivers a speech at the inauguration ceremony.

In Guatemala, Taiwan’s support through PADF enabled community members to obtain the necessary tools, machinery, supplies, and technical experts to complete the infrastructure construction project. Meanwhile, members of the community identified the street and selected the construction site based on the high level of danger it posed to those living there. They then provided the manual labor for widening the path, relocating electrical poles, excavating the drainage canals, and paving the walkway.

“What I consider most inspiring about this community is that women have really led the way throughout the entire process. Most of those doing the heavy lifting were actually women. Anyone who doubts the ability of women to build better, more resilient communities hasn’t met the women of El Campanero,” says PADF Technical Manager Lucia de España. “Every day, women and men worked side by side to construct this street. Today we celebrate their strength and dedication to creating a better future.”

An El Campanero community member excavates the road construction area.

An El Campanero community member excavates the road construction area.

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The El Campanero community thanks Taiwan for its financial support and PADF for coordinating the project and making their community a safer place. Ambassador John Lai of Taiwan to Guatemala also extended his appreciation at the event to everyone involved in the project to make it possible.

After five months of construction, community members have a paved concrete road and a sturdy 70-step stairway. Thanks to the partnership between Taiwan, PADF, the Municipality of Mixco and other local partners, the El Campanero community members can safely access their homes without looming concerns of insecurity during the rainy season.


PADF and Taiwan

O Canadá e a PADF melhoram as instalações médicas e educacionais no abrigo que assiste aos refugiados venezuelanos em Boa Vista, Roraima.

Read in English

Washington, DC (30 de outubro de 2017) – A Ministra das Relações Exteriores do Canadá Chrystia Freeland, em uma reunião do Grupo de Lima, realizada em Toronto, anunciou a quinta-feira, 26 de outubro, que o Governo do Canadá e a Fundação Pan-Americana para o Desenvolvimento (PADF) trabalharão juntos para melhorar as instalações médicas e educacionais para imigrantes e refugiados venezuelanos no estado de Roraima, Brasil.

Como consequência da crise política, econômica e humanitária na Venezuela, cerca de trinta mil venezuelanos e venezuelanas já imigraram para o Brasil e a maioria tem decidido se estabelecer no estado de Roraima. Eles precisam de abrigo, atenção médica, educação e outros serviços. Graças ao apoio do Canadá, a PADF fornecerá uma escola e uma clínica para o maior abrigo no estado, o Centro de Referência ao Imigrante, localizado no bairro Pintolândia em Boa Vista, capital do estado.

“Os venezuelanos e as venezuelanas que fugiram das péssimas condições na Venezuela têm buscado refúgio em Boa Vista”, disse Luisa Villegas, Diretora Sênior Assistente de Programas na PADF. “Porém, os serviços públicos voltados à população estão sobrecarregados pelo fluxo de recém-chegados. A nova clínica e a escola terão espaços privados dedicados a atenção médica e a aprendizagem, servindo a centenas de pessoas deslocadas pela crise no seu país natal”.

“Nós devemos continuar apoiando a população venezuelana – em defesa dos seus direitos humanos e suas necessidades básicas” disse a Honoravel Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Ministra das Relações Exteriores do Canadá. “E à luz do fato de que os efeitos da crise se espalharam além das fronteiras da Venezuela, o Canadá também fornecerá aproximadamente CAD $ 35,000 para melhorar os serviços de saúde e educação prestados aos 480 venezuelanos abrigados no Centro de Referência ao Imigrante, em Boa Vista, no Brasil.”

O abrigo atual é um ginásio que foi convertido em abrigo que, atualmente, carece de espaços para a educação e para os serviços médicos. As instalações proporcionadas pela PADF levarão comodidades modernas, materiais educativos e suprimentos médicos.

O Centro de Referência ao Imigrante fica a cargo de missionários e voluntários da Fraternidade – Federação Internacional Humanitária. É o maior abrigo no estado de Roraima e atualmente aloja 480 imigrantes e refugiados venezuelanos, dos quais aproximadamente 75% são indígenas e 50% são crianças e jovens. A clínica e a escola são duas das várias necessidades que o Centro tem, como consequência do fluxo de recém-chegados que precisam de ajuda.

Esse apoio é parte de um esforço maior por parte da PADF para responder à crise de imigrantes e refugiados no Brasil. Como uma organização sem fins lucrativos, filiada à Organização dos Estados Americanos (OEA), a PADF está liderando uma campanha internacional para ajudar às instituições locais e ao esforço de auxílio aos refugiados. A PADF já lançou uma campanha para arrecadar US$100.000 para apoiar aos abrigos locais e aos venezuelanos refugiados através de contribuições de instituições governamentais, fundações, entidades filantrópicas e pessoas físicas.

Para mais informações sobre este projeto, visite a www.padf.org/helpmigrants

Canada and PADF to Improve Education, Medical Facilities in Brazilian Shelter Serving Displaced Venezuelans

Leia em português.

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 30, 2017)– The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, announced Thursday at a meeting of the Lima Group in Toronto that the Government of Canada and the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) will partner to improve education and medical facilities for Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the Brazilian state of Roraima.

In the wake of the political, economic and humanitarian crises in Venezuela, an estimated 30,000 Venezuelans have emigrated to Brazil, and the majority have settled in the northern state of Roraima. They urgently need shelter, medical care, education and other services. Thanks to Canada’s support, PADF will provide a school and a medical clinic to the state’s largest shelter, the Immigrant Reference Center, located in the state capital Boa Vista.

“Venezuelans fleeing poor conditions have sought refuge in Boa Vista,” said Luisa Villegas, Deputy Senior Programs Director of PADF. “However, local systems have been strained by the influx of recent arrivals. The new clinic and school will create private and dedicated spaces for learning and medical attention, serving hundreds of people displaced by the crisis in their home country.”

“We must continue to support the Venezuelan people – in the defense of their human rights, and in their basic human needs,” said Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada. “And in light of the fact that the effects of the crisis have spread beyond Venezuela’s borders, Canada will also provide approximately CAD $35,000 to improve health and education services provided to the 480 Venezuelans sheltered at the Immigrant Reference Center in Boa Vista, Brazil.”

Facilities provided by PADF will be complete with modern amenities, classroom materials and medical supplies. The current shelter space has been converted from a gymnasium to a shelter and lacks dedicated medical and educational space.

The Immigrant Reference Center is operated by missionary volunteers from Fraternidade – International Humanitarian Federation. It is the largest shelter in Roraima and currently provides housing to 480 Venezuelan refugees and migrants, approximately three quarters of whom are indigenous. About half are under age 18. The school and clinic are two of the Center’s many needs given the influx of newcomers requiring assistance.

This assistance is part of PADF’s larger effort to respond to the Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis in Brazil. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization affiliated with the Organization of American States, PADF is leading an international campaign to assist local institutional institutions and relief efforts and has launched a campaign to raise US$100,000 to support local shelters and displaced Venezuelans through contributions from government institutions, foundations, philanthropists and individuals.

For more information about this project, visit www.padf.org/helpmigrants

Photos: Damage Assessment from Post-Earthquake Oaxaca

Seven weeks have passed since a magnitude 8.1 earthquake shook the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.

The earthquake was Mexico's strongest in a century. Nearly 100 people died and hundreds more were injured as a result. Buildings across the region were reduced to piles of rubble, and infrastructure has sustained great damage.

PADF is responding to the disaster in southern Mexico, monitoring local needs.

We recently assessed damage in and around Juchitán, Oaxaca, Mexico. Problems in Juchitán are particularly evident - remnants of buildings, now piles of rubble, line street corners. Airports, hospitals, hotels, businesses and public services are still shut down. But the damage goes deeper.

Before the earthquake, a municipal building occupied this area. It was completely destroyed. The remaining yellow building, a market, has also been severely damaged.

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This building was completely dislodged from its foundation, dropping into the banks of a river.

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Structural damage has prevented many businesses and public services from reopening.

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The earthquake also destroyed residences, leaving many people homeless.

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Under closer examination, many buildings that appear unaffected show signs of severe structural damage.

Below, crooked closet frames expose a sloping floor.

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Cracks in the foundation make buildings more vulnerable to long-term damage and future earthquakes.

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Cleanup crews are still working to remove rubble.

BBC News: Who cleans up after hurricanes, earthquakes and war?

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Local workers clear rubble from urban streets.

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Much of the rubble has been temporarily dumped on the sides of nonresidential streets.

Juchitán will face a major recovery effort, as this material must be dealt with.

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PADF is responding to the recent earthquakes in Mexico. We are collecting donations to help hardest-hit earthquake victims recover and rebuild what they lost. To help the recovery of Juchitán and the area, please make a contribution.


More PADF Projects in Mexico:

PepsiCo Foundation Donates to PADF $1 Million for Disaster Recovery in Puerto Rico & Mexico

Washington, DC (October 25, 2017) - The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) has received a donation of $1 million dollars from the PepsiCo Foundation to support post-disaster community recovery efforts in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

“Our neighbors in Mexico and the Caribbean have endured immense suffering,” says Katie Taylor, Executive Director of PADF. “We mourn with each person affected by these horrific disasters. PADF is committed to restoring lost livelihoods and economic opportunities, improving access to safe shelters and clean drinking water, and helping communities to get back on their feet.” She adds, “PADF is proud to work side by side with the people of Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the PepsiCo Foundation. Together we will build stronger communities that are capable of bouncing back more quickly from future disasters.”

On September 7 and September 19, earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.2 and 7.1 shook Mexico, killing more than 350 people and toppling buildings in Oaxaca, Morelos, Puebla, Guerrero and Mexico City. Vital infrastructure, including schools, marketplaces, healthcare facilities, roads, and homes sustained damage. On September 21, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, the strongest hurricane to strike the US territory in 90 years. Winds exceeded 155 miles per hour and toppled power lines and cellphone towers, paralyzed transportation, decimated farmers’ crops, and caused damage to vital tourism infrastructure and services. One month after the hurricane, a majority of the island’s 3.4 million residents are still without sufficient food, water, and power.

“The massive scale of these disasters has created extremely complex challenges that will require long-term, comprehensive community recovery and reconstruction strategies,” said Liza Mantilla, Director of Disaster Management at PADF. “The destruction in many areas has been catastrophic. We are grateful for the compassion and commitment that PepsiCo Foundation has extended to our neighbors in need.” The work of PADF will focus on restoring livelihoods, access to good nutrition and safe water, and resilient community services in Puerto Rico and underserved areas of Oaxaca and Morelos.

PepsiCo stands in solidarity with the communities affected by these events. PepsiCo Chairperson and CEO Indra K. Nooyi affirms, “PepsiCo is committed to supporting our communities in a time of need. Over the past week, we’ve offered that support once more, working closely with relief organizations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States to help communities devastated by recent natural disasters.” She adds, “We stand with the people of Mexico City, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean as they begin the work of recovering and rebuilding.” The PepsiCo Foundation has dedicated more than $6.5 million for disaster relief and recovery in the last month.

The Pan American Development Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that brings together diverse partners and community stakeholders to strengthen economic opportunities, civil society engagement, democracy and human rights, and local capabilities to prepare for and respond to disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean. Established 1962 by the Organization of American States (OAS), PADF has over five decades of experience building stronger, more resilient communities in every country in the region. During the past decade, PADF initiatives have enabled 92 million people to enjoy improved security and quality of life. For more information, visit www.padf.org.

100 Young Haitians Graduate with Vocational Training

It was a celebration of opening doors.

On Friday, 92 young Haitians walked across the stage to receive their diplomas in technical fields such as solar panel installation, cosmetology, cooking, tile installation, smart phone repair, textiles, and motorcycle mechanics. These young adults, nearly half of which were women, are now prepared to make a confident step into the work force.

The graduation ceremony was the final event for the yearlong SETEN program, sponsored by the Haitian Red Cross and the American Red Cross.

Unemployment continues to be a challenge for Haiti, threatening livelihoods among Haiti's vulnerable populations. 

"Projects like SETEN help strengthen the country's economy," said Nadia Cherrouk, PADF's Haiti Country Director. "By equipping these young people with good tools to cope with the job market, we are helping them to participate positively in the country's economy."

Haitian publication Le Nacional reports that the President of the Haitian Red Cross, Dr Guiteau Jean Pierre, also attended the event and offered some words of encouragement for the young graduates.

"These young people must be role models in their community. They must keep hope for a better tomorrow for themselves and their families. They must also show dynamism and solidarity," said Dr Guiteau.

As part of participating in the SETEN program, the young adults had the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops on community development and market needs. The project aims to facilitate trainings like this in order to inspire better overall wellbeing and civic engagement as each person becomes an agent of change in their respective communities.

Between Haiti's young adult training and empowerment programs, PADF has facilitated the successful training of nearly 600 young adults. PADF applauds the drive and determination of these young adults to refine their craft in a technical field.

More Projects in Haiti

PADF Responds to Devastating Mexican Earthquakes

Juchitán Earthquake

On September 7, a devastating magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck southern Mexico during the night. It was the most powerful Mexican earthquake in a century, and it killed more than 90 people in Juchitán and the surrounding area of Oaxaca and Chiapas. It also damaged vital infrastructure and various significant buildings, causing a state of emergency in the area. Powerful aftershocks were felt for days around the region. It also destroyed the region's main hospital and left families many doubting the structural integrity of their homes.

Mexico City Earthquake

Then, on September 19, a catastrophic magnitude 7.1 earthquake shook Mexico City and its surroundings, toppling dozens of buildings and severely damaging many more. Skyscrapers visibly rocked back and forth. Workers flooded the streets, hoping to get out before their workplaces crumbled. Nearly 300 people were killed in the incident, many trapped under rubble. Vital infrastructure and hundreds of community services like schools, shelters, roads and bridges suffered severe damage and urgently need to be rehabilitated.

PADF Responds

Both areas of the country need immediate assistance and emergency supplies. They also need long-term support to rebuild what they have lost to the misfortune of the disasters. PADF will assist the communities in greatest need, helping them to recover and rebuild their lives following the disaster. PADF is currently assessing the situation to intervene in the areas of greatest need, using its expertise in disaster response and coordination of resilient communities. 

You can help by making a monetary donation. To donate, please click the button below.

Friends of Softtek can donate here.

Hurricanes Irma & Maria Leave Thousands Homeless

On September 5-6, Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda before moving on to hit the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Bahamas. The record-breaking Category 5 hurricane was the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, and it rendered thousands homeless.

Just a couple weeks after Hurricane Irma caused so much damage in the Leeward Islands, Hurricane Maria quickly strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane before smashing the island nation of Dominica with 160 mph winds and heavy rain. Several mudslides occurred as the hurricane destroyed 90% of buildings on the island, littering it with structural debris. The hurricane also pummeled straight into Puerto Rico, which caused extensive damage and knocked out its electrical grid. Now, 3.4 million residents could be facing a humanitarian crisis as officials say power could be off for moths. A major dam's structural integrity was compromised, and now it's threatening to collapse.

The hurricanes have caused damage of historic proportions. For the first time in 300 years, the entire island of Barbuda (of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda) is uninhabited, as its 1,800 now homeless residents fled to Antigua. Irma's 185 mph winds knocked out 95% of its infrastructure. In Dominica, 98% of all buildings have suffered damage, and many are beyond repair. In Puerto Rico, 3.4 million residents are still struggling to access electricity and water after its grid collapsed.

The gravity of the devastation calls for an immediate and long-term response to rebuild what was destroyed by the hurricanes.

“Our closest friends and neighbors in the Caribbean and Mexico are confronting some of most tragic natural disasters in the history of our Hemisphere. We must all respond to support their efforts to rebuild more resilient communities after such widespread destruction and suffering.”
— John Sanbrailo, Executive Director, PADF

PADF will work alongside local organizations to rebuild more resilient communities that are capable of withstanding and responding to future extreme weather events. Since first responding to disasters 55 years ago, we have developed a strong network of partners in the Caribbean that work with local communities to recover from disastrous events.

Now, you can be part of the disaster response. Monetary donations help alleviate immediate disaster-related needs, like locally-purchased water, food and supplies. Please donate to be a vital part of the Caribbean's effort to recover from these catastrophic storms.

Realistic Disaster Simulation Prepares Communities & Authorities

Guatemala is one of the most disaster-prone nations in the world. Between droughts, floods, volcano eruptions, earthquakes and landslides, Guatemala is geographically placed to experience a major disaster event more frequently than other countries.

And aside from its geographic placement, its weak infrastructure often amplifies the negative effects of weather hazards. PADF is working with local authorities in reducing the risk of disaster by making key changes to infrastructure and preparation.

But disaster events are often unforeseen. How can officials prepare to save more lives in the hours and days after a disaster?

In a simulation held by PADF on September 2 and 3, local disaster teams (called COLREDs) in Guatemala trained to respond to disaster situations. Local community members role-played as disaster victims, acting desperate with injuries painted on their skin, as COLRED members trained in first response and disaster recovery.

The simulation was part of the Yo Me Preparo project, funded by Taiwan.

More than 180 disaster response personnel - including firefighters, national police, and national disaster defense - were trained in the simulation. They learned about evacuation and security systems, first response, and emergency planning.

In addition, mechanisms were shown for saving the highest quantity of people possible in any disaster situation.

In Guatemala, communities built on steep hillsides are especially prone to experiencing landslides. Therefore, it was vital that COLRED members trained in excavating people and rescuing those who had been trapped inside their homes.

At the end of the day, participants were reminded of the importance of preparing for rainy season, when soil gets water-logged and loses its adhesiveness. Each community should work together to take preparative measures before the threat of a disaster, because Guatemala depends on its local disaster personnel to save lives.