By Christopher Lindsay
While the prominent news media and the international community were still reeling over the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, unpublicized Hurricane Stan dumped torrential rains in Central America, killing over 1,600 people and causing an estimated $1 billion in damages.
However, the destruction caused by Stan didn”t go unnoticed by three BYU students who decided to organize a benefit concert to help people pick up some of the pieces of their lives.
With the encouragement of an enthusiastic professor, Jacob Jones, David Lindes and Scooter Plowman scheduled popular musician Peter Breinholt to rock and raise relief aid.
“Our goal is $10,000,” Plowman said. “Working with Help-International, most of the funds are going to micro-credit… [The money will] go toward them investing in themselves and restarting their economy.”
The majority of the damage to Guatemala was concentrated in the country”s impoverished regions. In these areas concrete buildings are a rarity and the majority of the people live in tarpaper shacks. Being far from stable enough to withstand the hurricane, Stan left many residents with no legal property.
When Lindes, a Latin American studies major with an emphasis in family living in Guatemala, called an uncle living in that country for help with a political science class. However, the conversation quickly turned to the devastation.
“Thousands of people have been evacuated and relocated,” Lindes said. “But the major problem was that the agriculture was laid to waste, it”s simply gone.”
The real tragedy from Hurricane Stan was the destruction to the fledgling communities, said Jones, who traveled to Guatemala the previous summer with Help-International to build waterways and teach English in local schools.
“It wiped out most of the crops in the villages we worked in,” Jones said. “They couldn”t get the help to them immediately because the roads were all destroyed.”
The three students, in conjunction with Provo-based Help-International, began planning ways to get aid to the hurricane victims.
“Guatemala hasn”t really had any rebuilding efforts going on, they”re still cleaning up,” said Plowman, a Chicago native pursuing a double major in neuroscience and Latin American studies. “They”re spending most of their time rebuilding.”
While it may seem like a daunting task to help put ravaged lives back together, Plowman said it was the least they could do.
“We”re just a couple of guys trying to do our part,” Plowman said. “But we know that this money”s really going to be put to use.”
Breinholt will perform Friday, Mar. 17, 2006, at 7:30 p.m. at Provo High School. Tickets are $9 and all proceeds will be used by Help-International to aid in disaster recovery in Central America. Will-call tickets are available by calling 801-374-0556.