Update on Ecuador Earthquake
AUF, Inc. Supports Relief in Chamanga and Portoviejo
In the past week I have taken two trips to two different communities affected by the earthquake of April 16th and many after shocks in the days following. The last tremor was the day after I arrived in Ecuador on May 15th. It could be felt in Guasmo. The people are terrified thinking about what might come next and where.
Chamanga, (a 12 hour drive from Guayaquil) is a small community in the province of Esmeraldas that relies on fishing as its primary economy. Almost all of the central part of the community was destroyed and the re-building will be rigorous.
Much of the community is living in temporary camps; some provided by the government and some private. We spent much time talking with the people who were not living in the government supported camps and asked why they did not want to live in them. For the people of Chamanga the rules of the government sponsored camp, regarding hours of entering and leaving, made it impossible for many to continue fishing as the fishermen have schedules that did not conform to the hours the camp opened and closed.
The work of Mi Cometa is concentrated with the families who are living in smaller private camps. On the trip of June 2-5 we brought food and several women provided manicures and pedicures for the women of the camps. I know this seems a bit frivolous but it was received with such joy and appreciation. We brought games for the children and I brought toothbrushes and paste. It will be a long stay in the camps for many of these people and plans are in progress for short term solutions such as food, water, medicine and JOY and long term plans are in process as to how to help the community re-build. We brought a delightful young architect with us to evaluate the destruction and understand the problems facing re-construction.
On Tuesday June 7th I drove to Portoviejo to visit another private camp. There are approximately 130 people in this camp. These people had partial destruction on their homes but did not want to enter the government camps as they could not bring their household goods with them and they were afraid to leave them behind, as they would be stolen. This group is living under a self-made tent of black plastic, lined with mattresses. They have three cooking stations and share the responsibility of preparing meals. They have no source of water and no bathroom facilities.
On Sunday June 26th the participants in the construction group from AUF, Inc. will travel to this community for the day to share a day of festivities with the people. There will be 22 North Americans and 20+ people from the Guasmo Sur community and 7 musicians from Clave de Sur. We will bring two large water tanks, 20 mattresses, several tents, medicine and personal hygiene kits. We will also bring rice, potatoes, onions, eggs, milk, sugar, and oil. We are planning a day of games for the children, manicures and pedicures for the women and music and dance for the entire community. We will share a noon meal together. The students from CASF, the education program of AUF, Inc. have prepared cards for each person in the camp offering their thoughts and blessings for them. The community is also making kite pins for each person to represent both Mi Cometa and AUF, Inc. and the significance of soaring dreams and a better future.
Thank you to all in the United States who have contributed to this relief effort to help elevate the lives of those affected by this disaster. We will continue to keep you informed as more projects are planned.
The joy continues,
Linda J. Smith
Vice President AUF, Inc.