By Sarah Banks
Only days ago, on June 3rd, did one of Guatemala’s volcanoes erupt, bringing hardship to many lives in the area. The lava quickly ate up farm lands, villages, and even a golf resort. As of Thursday, over 100 people have been killed and another 200 are missing, but those numbers are expected to rise. But what about the horses?
(Photo Credit- Volcano Fuego Twisting Smoke by Andy Shepard)
Horses in Guatemala
228,000 horses (donkeys and mules too) are used in many ways in Guatemala, including in both every day life and in tourism. Many citizens in the country are poor and have working horses that are used for transportation, including transportation of products such as beans, wood, and even water. The horses would help transport the family to where they needed to go, and helped the family get to their village to get supplies, such as medicine, in a timely manner. The horses are a big part of their life, and they wouldn’t be able to do the work that they do without their help. Millions of poor families rely on these horses to help with their livelihood, and to survive in general.
Horses are a big part of tourism for visiting the volcanoes. There are many tour companies with horses being the main factor of their business, along with the volcanoes themselves. Tourists ride the horses up to the top of the volcanoes, which some are very steep to get up and horses opens the door for more people to be able to access the top of volcanoes.
Without horses, many families will struggle to survive and won’t be able to maintain a decent living. They may not be able to get to the closest place for medicine in time if one of the family members gets sick, and where they need to go is a good distance away but they have to go on foot. For the families that use horses to help with their farming, they wouldn’t be able to produce nearly as much as they were, which could result in the family going hungry. The ones who use horses to carry water home for drinking, they would have to do it themselves if they don’t have their horses, which could result in less energy for farming or getting to the village to sell their products, especially if they have to go a long distance to get the water.
(Photo Credit- Brooke USA)
Estimation of Horses Affected
It has been estimated that at least 1,000 horses so far have been negatively affected by the volcano eruptions. The eruptions have contaminated many crops and the air itself with all of the ash it is spewing out, which can cause health problems in both horses and humans.
(Photo Credit- News.com.au)
How You Can Help
There are several nonprofit organizations that you can donate to that are helping the Guatemalan families affected get back on their feet while they help the horses.
Brooke USA, related to Brooke, the largest equine welfare charity in the world, has a goal of raising $10,000 to contribute to the efforts in Guatemala to help the equine animals affected by the eruption. Headquartered in the middle of horse country in the USA, Lexington, Kentucky, Brooke USA partners with Healthy Equines for the People (ESAP) in Guatemala. They have set up an Equine Emergency Disaster Relief Fund that will go to those who need it the most in Guatemala.
The website you can donate on is the following- https://www.thebrooke.org/get-involved/donate
You may call the Brooke USA office in Lexington at (859) 296-0037
You can also email them at Cindy.Rullman@BrookeUSA.org