How I became a birth sponsor for a Fuego volcano survivor

On December 8th at 11am, a new baby boy made his debut into the world. José Alfredo was born in a small Guatemalan town, Ciudad Vieja. It is the first birth I sponsored in my life, my first ever charity project with a special mission and story. Little José’s mother, María Rosalina Orizabal Sánchez, is a 30-year-old Guatemalan woman. She survived Fuego’s violent eruption on June 3, 2018.

On that day, the whole country was in shock. People living near the volcano were used to its daily rumblings and never imagined a tragedy was approaching. Many were alerted when they suddenly saw great waves of lava and thick clouds of ash coming their way, but it was too late… In a blink of an eye, several towns were destroyed by the river of lava making a new route through the mountains. Hundreds lost their lives and thousands were affected…

a demonstrations of where the river of lava went and how many towns it coveredDuring the days following the tragedy, I heard so many horrific stories my heart could not stop breaking! I kept thinking that it could have been my family under that lava or running from it. Fuego volcano is only 45 km. away from our house and we have frequently stopped for lunch in one of the evacuated towns, Escuintla, on our way to the beach. What if we were there in those very moment? – Nightmare… I was trembling while reading the news about children who had lost their parents, about parents who had lost their children and others who were trapped in their houses surrounded by lava and died… I wanted to drop everything, jump into my car and drive there to help bandaging wounds, giving away food, or whatever else people do in such cases… But I could not leave my children. Besides, it was still dangerous to be there. What could I do? What could calm down my aching heart?

I noticed firemen gathering donations near a supermarket. My husband and I bought some toilet paper, soap, diapers, detergent and a few other items to give to the firemen.

What made my heart ache more than anything was the realization that there were some kids with burned feet that didn’t even have shoes. I found a big box with my kids shoes and set aside 10 pairs for the victims. After explaining to my 3-year-old daughter what is a volcano, what had happened and how many kids lost their houses together with their toys, I asked my daughter if she could gather some toys she rarely plays with to give away to the affected kids. My little sweetie understood everything. With a pride I witnessed how she decided what to share and all by herself gathered a big bag of toys to give away. I also looked through my clothes and filled a large container to give away to the survivors.

Knowing how poor the state hospitals are, we found out the list of most needed medical supplies by the rescuers and drove to a medical supply store in Guatemala City. There we bought huge boxes with IVs, liquids for IVs, catheters, cotton pads, bandages and other items that would ease the pain of the victims with severe burns. Then we made a trip to give the medical supplies together with the clothes and toys to our friend and midwife, Hannah Freiwald, who had a direct connection with the rescuers. Only at that point my heart felt a bit better, like if it finally let go off something… But nothing soothes the heart as much as knowing that your help has reached a specific family and impacted their lives.

Ekaterina and her daughter at the medical supplies storeMaría Rosalina Orizabal Sánchez was only 2 months pregnant when lava hit El Rodeo, the town in Guatemala where she lived with her whole family. Her sister couldn’t escape and was among people that were trapped and never found in the ashes. The house of Maria was not destroyed but it is in the area that is called ground zero and considered to be dangerous to live in. So they couldn’t stay there any longer. The whole family, Maria, her husband and their 3 kids, who were 5, 11 and 13 year old, had to relocate fast and rely on people’s charity to survive. Hannah Freiwald raised some money to pay for their rent while Maria’s husband was trying to find a new job at the local coffee plantation and trying to sell handmade baskets at the market. However, even now, a few months after the tragedy, what he earns is not nearly enough for his family. They live in hope that God will help him find a better job where they are living now. With this fact in mind and knowing how much care women need in their postpartum, I felt a need to make one step further and made another gift to this family by covering their rent in December.

I found Maria at the point when she was 6 months (27 weeks) pregnant and Hannah Freiwald was already helping them as well as other victims to cover expenses for rent. I find it important to mention one more fact about Hannah. Besides being a very generous soul and amazing midwife fiercely working on informing and supporting women through countless natural births and VBACs in the capital of Guatemala, Hannah is also a founder and a vice president of the board of directors of Manos Abiertas clinic in Ciudad Vieja. This clinic is a donation based and volunteer based project. Its main purpose is to provide a respectful prenatal care and assistance in childbirth to women living behind the poverty line. That is the clinic where our Maria gave birth to her little José.

Maria with her husband and little Jose right after birthBy the way, the number of natural births happening in Guatemala is much lower than recommended by WHO. The proportion of cesarean section in the country is 46% and reaching 96% in the private clinics. Meanwhile the Manos Abiertas clinic supports only natural births and sends women for a cesarean extremely rarely (almost never). If you would like to donate and help more women living below the poverty line to have a respected natural birth, please click here:

I find it is also important to say about the role of Ecstatic Birth Practitioner Training and it’s creator Sheila Kamara Hay played in the financial aid to Maria in such a delicate time in her life. Sheila’s current student, Tammy Kim McGinnes Idoux purchased Ecstatic Birth Practitioner Training through my affiliate link, knowing that 50% of my commission would support Fuego volcano victims. Thanks to Sheila’s generous commission and Tammy’s willingness to support my projects, together we were able to make a meaningful impact in this family’s life touched by a tragedy. If you are interested in Sheila’s Ecstatic Birth Practitioner Training and would like to take it in English while participating in one of my charity projects and making a difference in the lives of pregnant women in Guatemala or Russia, please, contact me at To learn more about the EBPT program, please, visit:

To learn more about how Ecstatic Birth Practitioner Training impacted my professional and personal life, please, read here:

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December 31, 2018

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