Derry man volunteers in Guatemala after devastating volcanic eruption

Derry man Dean Kerlin who is involved in the relief operation in Guatemala
Derry man Dean Kerlin who is involved in the relief operation in Guatemala

A Co. Derryman has been involved in the relief operation following the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala.

Dean Kerlin, who is originally from Park, now lives in the town of Antigua where many of the volunteer relief workers are based.

The 32-years-old owns the Tropicana Hostel in Antigua and now has concerns the villages will not be the same after the volcanic eruption.

Dean settled there in 2011 while he was backpacking.

He told the ‘Journal’ he met a girl, decided to settle down and opened his own hostel which sleeps 50 guests.

Dean said the volcano was one of the most active in the world and he regularly takes tourists up to a nearby volcano to watch the eruptions.

“Fuego erupts every 20 minutes or so on any given day. This was just a bigger eruption.”

The Derry man said he still feels safe in Antigua, despite the volcano ash which has been falling on nearby villages and towns with high levels of Sulphur in the air.

“It’s been a long couple of days. I’ve got a big van at the hostel we use for tours, we’ve been using it to take supplies from Antigua. Everyone’s been pulling together, the travelling community, all the backpackers and holidaymakers.

“They have been donating their time and money to the cause, buying medical supplies and food and water for everybody who lost their homes.”

Earlier this week, Dean and other volunteers travelled to some of the smaller town and villages to drop off supplies.

“The worst situations I have seen are the people who have lost their homes, lost everything.

“They have come from little towns, they are pretty poor, they didn’t have an awful lot to begin with. A lot of them have lost family members.

“I was chatting to a guy who was driving one of the vans with supplies, he had lost four or five family members but he was still helping out. He was fighting back the tears while he was driving to the market to buy things.”