It’s a good job this blog post wasn’t written an hour earlier. About six hours ago, I got a text from S saying the power had gone down in her area and there had been no sign of helicopters. There had been no news and nobody had told S or her group anything. With water and food supplies starting to run down even further, the situation was looking grim.
With no power to charge her phone, S turned it off to save the batteries for emergencies. I left work a worried man, not knowing when I would hear from her again or what she was going through. Needless to say, the big drama of tonight’s Carling Cup game passed me by – I just wasn’t interested in anything other than scouring the net for news.
Then, about 20 minutes ago, I sent her a text telling her to stay strong, how much I loved her, and the rest. She replied almost immediately. The power had returned and, even more relieving, helicopters were arriving. I was so happy, I nearly hugged my housemate. He was just coming out of the shower at the time, so it was probably for the best that this didn’t happen.
S isn’t out of Machu Picchu yet, but at least help has arrived and it can only be a matter of time before she’s airlifted out of the stricken region. In the meantime, there are fresh supplies. Out of all the problems, I was most concerned about the lack of water. At least that has been eased for the time being.
So, it looks like, for S at least, it’s the start of the end of her Machu Picchu adventure and I’ll be so relieved when she finally makes it out and to safety.
But I’m also painfully aware that S, for all her distress and discomfort, and for all the worrying I’ve done, has had it easy compared to others. She has had a hotel room, food and, ultimately, a home to come back to. Many aren’t so lucky and have lost their homes and, with crops destroyed, their livelihoods too.
To that end, I was prepared to put my money where my mouth was and donate to a disaster relief fund for Peru. I know it won’t be much, but at least it can help repair infrastructure and homes.
However, this has been slightly complicated by the fact that Peru doesn’t have seemed to ask for aid, so there are no direct charity appeals. Even the Peruvian Red Cross don’t seem to have been approached. Which kind of makes donations a little tricky.
If, after a few days, there’s still nothing, I’ll be donating to the Red Cross Disaster Fund. It’s not exactly Peru, I know, but at least the money will go towards somebody, somewhere, who needs it more than I do. If you feel so inclined, please feel free to do the same.
I’d also like to say a huge thanks to everybody who has emailed, text or Facebooked words of support and kindness to both myself and S over the last couple of days. It has been hugely appreciated and very comforting. Also, huge thanks to those who’ve been able to help in some form or another, and also to the journalists who’ve covered this story and have contacted either myself or S.
Granted, in the UK this may not have received huge amounts of coverage, but the articles have been well written and have tallied closely to what S has been telling me from the ground.
At the very least, it has raised awareness of this situation. From S’s point of view, I think it’s been comforting to know the situation hasn’t been forgotten or ignored and she can get the message out about what’s happening in Machu Picchu and the surrounding area.
I’ll update again in the next couple of days when, hopefully, S will have been airlifted out of the area and will be safely heading towards Lima. But I’ll also try and revisit the topic from time to time to keep awareness of the rebuilding effort in Peru. It’s the least I can do. I’ll also try and get a few more academic thoughts down on social media, disaster reporting and the like. Understandably, I’d like to wait until S is safe and sound until I do this.
In the meantime, I’d like to point you in the direct of the excellent Living In Peru website, who have been continually updating news on the disaster. Their coverage has been excellent and helped me no end when it comes to understanding Peru. I’ve also been in contact with Isabel and Nathan from the site, who’ve updated me on the general situation. Please do pay them a visit and spread the word.