In my last post I wrote about the damage caused by Ecuador’s big quake over a week ago. Since then there have been hundreds of aftershocks, some of which are quite large and have caused even more damage and further frightened an already shell-shocked population.
Most of the country is fine. Most of the population is functioning normally. But for the people in the areas that were hit hard life will never be the same. Entire cities have essentially crumbled. People have lost their homes, their belongings, and in the worst cases their lives. Everything is in disarray – schools are closed, people are not working because even if they still have a job to go to many are simply trying to rebuild their lives, electricity is still out in many areas as is internet.
A friend from Bahia sent pictures of his town in which not much remains. He says that people are sleeping in the streets, there is no food, no medicine, and most people don’t have more than one set of clothes. A friend of his was killed and the hospitals are full. It’s a heartbreaking situation.
Immediately after the quake many people from around the world and many expats here in Ecuador were chomping at the bit to be of help. Folks donated money to relief organizations, those in country donated food and clothing to designated drop-off sites, gave blood, and we all asked what more can we do?
It was urged that the average person not go to the coast to help. Unless you spoke good Spanish, had training for catastrophic emergencies, and could supply all of your own food, water, and shelter it was likely you’d be more of a hindrance than a help. So we sat. And waited.
One of my expat friends here in Cotacachi is a former RCMP officer from Canada. He does speak passable Spanish and has the training required in situations like this. Last weekend he was able to join a group headed to the coast to distribute provisions and spent four days helping local communities. Obviously supplies were limited and they didn’t have enough for everyone. Brian said that people were so desperate in some areas that they chased after the convoy and were begging for help.
So Brian and his wife Janette will be headed back to the coast in a couple of days to help those who haven’t seen assistance yet. They have received donations from friends and family allowing them to purchase enough supplies to make around 1,000 aid kits for families on the coast. And this morning my sons and I along with a few other friends went to help assemble the kits.
Each kit contains a one cup bag of rice, two cans of tuna, a small package of peanut butter, a small package of cooking oil, a bottle of juice, one can of sardines or a package of ramen noodles, two packages of saltine crackers, a bar of soap, a tube of toothpaste, and a toothbrush. Shortly before leaving they will be purchasing bread rolls from a local bakery to give away along with the kits as well as bottles of water.
They were also able to purchase a generator to donate to a medical clinic in Pedernales and dog food for families with pets.
Is it a long-term solution? No. But it will give families in remote areas something to help them get through until government supplies can reach them.
Brian was able to make contact with an Ecuadorean who is heading up further aid projects including rebuilding houses and shelters for families. Once the dust settles and the initial urgency is over I plan to join up in helping wherever I can. I’ll keep you all posted.