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ECUADOR: Salesian Missionaries Provide Shelter, Ongoing Support to Those Affected by Earthquake

(MissionNewsire) One month from the 7.8 earthquake that killed 660 and initially left tens of thousands homeless in Ecuador, thousands of people still remain in informal shelters which lack basic services. The earthquake, which struck on April 16, destroyed water systems, collapsed roads, and affected 33 health centers – half of which are still not operational. In addition, 560 schools and close to 10,000 buildings were either damaged or completely destroyed.

According to UNICEF, nearly 120,000 children are in urgent need of temporary educational spaces. 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.

The hardest hit areas are in the Manabi Province which includes the cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales. Immediately after the earthquake struck, Salesian missionaries living and working in the area 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.

At the end of April, Salesian missionaries put a plan into place to assist more than 42,000 affected by the earthquake. 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,” says Father Maffeo Panteghini, provincial economer who went to Manta to assess the damage. “We have already helped more than 7,000 families with food, shelter and medicine and plan to assist even more.”

One of those supporting Salesian missionaries is Juan Carlos Macias, whose home was damaged so badly it’s scheduled for demolition. Macias is a doctor and a former Salesian scout since the age of 14. He had always liked to volunteer and serve others, especially those most in need. Even though he lost everything he is providing free medical care to people of the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Manta.

“I cannot offer more than my professional knowledge because I lost everything but if I had a chance, I’d be helping people who really need it,” says Marcias.

Due to extensive damage to Salesian buildings the church, retreat house and school are currently 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 months, missionaries will continue to respond 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 salesianmissions.org/ecuador.




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