ECUADOR: Salesian Missionaries Create Action Plan to Assist More Than 42,000 Affected by Earthquake
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have made an action plan to assist more than 42,000 people affected by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador on April 16 leaving at least 655 people dead and close to 5,000 injured. According to government reports, close to 30,000 people are living in temporary shelters. The hardest hit areas are in the Manabi Province which includes the cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales. UNICEF and its humanitarian partners have noted that $23 million is required to meet the needs of at least 250,000 children over the next three months in the affected areas.
Ecuador’s government has declared a state of emergency and has deployed army troops, firefighters and heavy equipment to search for those that remain missing. Many highways, air traffic control and other buildings along the coast have collapsed. In Manta, Salesian missionaries operate a school, a parish, an oratory and a center for street children and are reporting that entire families are homeless and totally unprotected. There is a shortage of food and water and people forced to live on the streets without basic services are suffering, especially children and the elderly.
After the earthquake struck, missionaries in Ecuador responded immediately helping to dig through rubble to look for trapped survivors and providing assistance to those affected. Salesian programs across the country have been working to collect emergency aid and coordinate volunteer efforts.
In order to ensure effective coordination and delivery of emergency aid, Salesians missionaries are collaborating with Ecuador’s governmental and non-governmental bodies active in the areas damaged by the earthquake. Salesian missionaries have already coordinated several shipments of materials that were delivered from other Salesian programs within the Manabi Province and two Salesian doctors and two nurses were sent to help the most affected communities.
“Hundreds of youth and adults within Salesian programs have organized campaigns to collect basic necessities such as water and non-perishable foods and we have already helped more than 7,000 families with food, shelter and medicine,” says Father Maffeo Panteghini, provincial economer who went to Manta to assess the damage. “Salesian missionaries are continuing to assist those most in need and making a long-term plan to help more than 42,000 with basic needs and long-term rebuilding.”
While responding to those in need, Salesian missionaries are also working to address the damage sustained to several of their buildings during the earthquake. Father Jorge Molina, provincial in Ecuador, has formed a support team to address this crisis. Damage to the school, the parish and a retreat house, as well as many of the buildings in the surrounding community, is quite extensive.
“There are 1,800 students attending the Salesian College of San Jose and many have been left homeless,” says Marcelo Mejia, delegate for social communication of the province of Ecuador. “Many of our students live in the area near the school where the damage is irreparable. There have been many stories we have heard of great sorrow our students are going through for the loss of loved ones.”
For now, the church, retreat house and school are closed. However, community members continue to seek assistance and shelter from the missionaries who are responding with aid as best they can. In the coming weeks and months, missionaries will work to assess damage and put a plan into place for responding to aid requests and rebuilding needs.
Headquartered in New Rochelle, New York, Salesian Missions has launched a Disaster in Ecuador fund to help the victims of the earthquake. To raise money for the fund, the Catholic nonprofit aid organization has launched an emergency fundraising campaign and is issuing an urgent appeal for donations. Go to http://www.salesianmissions.org/ecuador.