It is estimated that as many as half a million people have been impacted by the recent earthquake in Ecuador. The 7.8 magnitude quake on April 16 and aftershocks have claimed more than 500 lives, injured thousands and left communities in ruins. Despite the devastation, rescue crews continue to find survivors amidst the rubble.
“They pulled out a baby earlier this week. It’s a miracle,” said Luke Asikoye, associate for International Response with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. “The buildings there are built out of concrete and they were not prepared for something like this.”
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is working in collaboration with its partner, the ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance to respond in the aftermath. As many as 6,000 families in Ecuador will receive food, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as community-based psychosocial support and non-food items.
“Right now, the only thing we can do from here is to support the efforts. There is a very capable team on the ground in Ecuador that is conducting assessments,” said Asikoye. “I think it’s going to be a long road to recovery because the people are scarred psychologically. We still don’t have a clear picture of total devastation and recovery. One of the challenges right now is getting accurate information so that we can share it with everyone.”
Search and rescue teams have also been hampered in their efforts to reach some communities due to collapsed roads and landslides.
“Many of the places in Ecuador are remote and it was difficult to access some of these areas prior to the earthquake, so we are now hearing about the difficulties of getting emergency aid to these remote areas,” said the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, associate mission director for PDA. “It was the same situation in Haiti during an earthquake in 2005 and we are still discovering communities there that were virtually invisible and never got the resources they needed to recover.”
PDA has provided $25,000 to Ecuador for immediate needs such as food, water and other emergency items, but more is still needed.
“We continue to urge people to give what they can to support the emergency needs. But most importantly, just remember the people in prayer during this difficult time,” said Asikoye. “They need all of the comfort and support they can get whether it is physical or spiritual.”
PDA continues to work in collaboration with partners in Japan as well, following two earthquakes. “Japan is more robust with additional resources, but even so, they have felt their capacity to respond to be overwhelming,” said Kraus.
Kraus says PDA will continue to accompany and support the people of both Ecuador and Japan long after the initial wave of relief.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is the emergency response and refugee program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), committed to the long-term recovery of communities adversely affected by a crisis or catastrophic event. It is funded by the One Great Hour of Sharing and has designated funds for responding to specific disasters.
To support recovery efforts related to the earthquakes, visit https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/make-a-gift/gift-info/DR999999. You’ll be taken to the PC(USA) website to donate securely and quickly.
If you prefer to mail a check, you may send it to:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
PO Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
You may also call Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p. (EST) at 1-800-872-3283 and donate by phone.
To learn more about relief efforts in Ecuador and Japan, click here.