cruzbigspacerIt was morning in the town of Jerusalem, El Salvador, and Maria Concepcion Barahona was making tortillas for her family when the second earthquake hit. As the ground shook beneath her, Maria grabbed her two toddlers and fled from her home seconds before it collapsed. Luckily, two daughters, 10 year-old Mayra and 8 year-old Maria, were outside in the fields, taking breakfast to their father, Gonzalo Cruz, who was cutting sugar cane with their oldest brother.

Although Maria, her husband Gonzalo Cruz and their five children escaped serious injury, they are among more than a million people — one out of every six Salvadorans — left homeless by the two major earthquakes, which struck on 13 January and again on 13 February, destroying whole villages and causing looses of almost $3 billion.

The Cruz family have lived all their lives in Jerusalem. Located about 60 kilometres southeast of the capital of San Salvador in one of the worst hit areas, the town is completely devastated; its buildings in ruins and the main business and biggest employer, a sugar cane factory, destroyed. Children play among the piles of rubble that used to be their homes while their parents create makeshift shelter out of discarded trash and plastic sheeting.

The people of Jerusalem are dependent on clean water brought in by relief organizations and the World Food Programme (WFP) for their main source of food. Like their neighbours, the Cruz family is surviving on corn, beans and oil distributed by the WFP and praying that the sugar mill will be rebuilt and they can earn the money to rebuild their homes.

Immediately after the first earthquake, WFP was on the ground distributing emergency rations to more than 90,000 families — an estimated 450,000 people. But the United Nations agency needs more funds to feed people traumatized by two devastating earthquakes within a single month.

WFP has received only $2 million of the $10 million it requested from donor countries to feed 200,000 of El Salvador’s most vulnerable people over the next six months.

During emergencies, the World Food Programme delivers fast, life-sustaining, relief to millions of people who are victims of natural or man-made disasters, working with other relief organizations. WFP is also on the front lines in the UN fight against global hunger. In 1999, WFP fed more than 89 million people in 82 countries, including most of the world’s refugees and displaced people.

FIND OUT MORE about the WFP and how the UN works to bring relief to traumatized people during emergencies such as earthquakes and floods. Go to the link next to the photo of the Cruz family.