A WOMAN from Abingdon has joined aid workers in Guatemala to help out following the worst earthquake for 36 years.
Gemma Hunt, a graduate in disaster management, was travelling in Central America when the disaster struck earlier this month.
The 26-year-old immediately cancelled her bus ticket to Mexico and offered her services to charity European Disaster Volunteers (EDV).
She is now urging people in Oxfordshire to help her raise money to help the victims.
The earthquake, which struck the country on November 7, registered 7.4 magnitude on the Richter scale, the strongest earthquake in Guatemala since 1976.
The death toll was 52, but thousands of homes in the San Marcos region were damaged by the quake.
Miss Hunt said: “Most of the buildings have some structural damage, others were severely damaged and had “demoler”– meaning to demolish – written on the walls but some were already piles of rubble.
“On the corner of one street a house was reduced to nothing and a family were rummaging for any of their personal items that they might be able to salvage.
“I saw two little girls climbing on the rubble clutching their colouring books which I assumed had been pulled out the rubble.”
She and her travelling companion Vicky Crooks, from Worcestershire, are currently staying in the city of Xela, which was affected by the earthquake, but are trying to raise funds for the neighbouring town of San Marcos which saw the worst devastation.
She said: “We really want to create more awareness of the situation here and raise money, so our bedroom has become a media centre.
“This is a massive task and we appreciate anything that people can give.”
Night time temperatures are now dropping to freezing point.
Miss Hunt and her travelling companion hope to raise at least £1,500 to buy desperately needed food, water, clothes and other essentials.
Miss Hunt previously worked with EDV in Haiti.
EDV spokesman Emma Taylor said: “In Port-au-Prince, Gemma was key to the success of a number of our projects and so when she contacted us after the recent earthquake we knew she was an ideal person to be representing us there.”
Oxfam spokesman Ian Bray confirmed that blankets were desperately needed, along with hygiene supplies.
He said: “It is great that someone like Gemma can go out there and offer support.”
Follow Ms Hunt’s blog at itchyfeetontheloose.word press.com/2012/11/12/guatemala-earthquake-update and donate at justgiving.com/guatemalan earthquakeappeal