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Meet the Costa Rican woman who saved 300 lives in Guatemala

June 8, 2018

When Fuego Volcano erupted in Guatemala on Sunday, June 3, a Costa Rican working in the area was ready to act.

Evelyn Ordóñez is the manager at La Reunión Golf Resort Hotel and Residences in Alotenango, Guatemala,  according to the Guatemalan media organization Nómada. Ordóñez, 46, has worked in the tourism industry for 25 years, and has been at La Reunión since 2014.

When she saw volcanic activity beginning on Sunday, Ordóñez made the call to evacuate a full two hours before the peak explosion. She coordinated the prompt removal of 300 people, thus saving their lives, Nómada reported.

“When I saw the simultaneous explosions from the hotel’s lobby, I understood they were not the usual ones [we had seen] before. We began evacuating at 11:30 [am] and finished at 12:55 pm when I left. We evacuated 300 people, all alive, but what happened in the community is very painful,” Ordóñez told Nómada in an interview published on Wednesday.

The manager had to interrupt her interview with Nómada twice in order to help people at shelters in the community. She said her primary interest was to create awareness about the situation and how to help.

“Please help spread that there’s still life. Please make donations in cash. Many people need to be buried in a dignified way. People are the most important asset and they must die with dignity. We’ll rise up and we’ll move on. We’ll shine like the sun again,” Ordóñez told Nómada.

As for how to help, Ordóñez emphasized that people in Guatemala can provide food, personal hygiene items, clothing, boots and mattresses.

“There’s a collection center in Alotenang  called Monja Blanca where you can give all the help needed. We need hygiene articles, shoes, preferably boots, mattresses, blankets and food more than anything. Your help is deeply appreciated and we’ll make the distribution and transportation with the logistics that La Reunión has for its workers, families and affected communities,” Ordóñez told Nómada.

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