ECUADOR: Students Back to School after Earthquake as Missionaries Continue Medical, Food Aid
(MissionNewsire) Salesian missionaries continue to offer aid and support to those affected by the 7.8 earthquake that killed 660 and left tens of thousands homeless in Ecuador. The earthquake, which struck on April 16, destroyed water systems, collapsed roads, and affected 33 health centers – half of which are still not operational. 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 provide 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 addition, 560 schools and close to 10,000 buildings were either damaged or completely destroyed. UNICEF notes that in the areas of Manabi and Esmeraldas 280 schools were destroyed leaving 88,000 children without an education.
More than 1,200 students at the Salesian-run San Jose Salesian Educational Center in Manta resumed their classes on June 13. The earthquake damaged part of the school building and the gym but the rest remains operational. Construction is still ongoing. On the first day back, Salesian missionaries focused their work on psycho-emotional activities helping both children and their families process the trauma from the earthquake and everything they had been through while working to prepare them for school educational activities. To accomplish this task, Salesian missionaries utilized the services of psychologists from the local Salesian University.
Salesian missionaries have also provided more than 800 food kits, which will feed families for 8-10 days. These food rations are delivered every 10 days by Salesian volunteers. Salesian missionaries also operate a medical clinic, which was very busy in the initial days after the earthquake seeing up to 200 patients. While the number of patients has slowed, mothers still access the clinic with their children seeking both physical exams and psychological assistance. Two Salesian doctors and two nurses were sent to help the most affected communities in the wake of the earthquake and now staff the clinic. Many of the children need the extra support processing the trauma following the quake as well as adjusting to living in temporary shelter while construction continues.
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
“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.”
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.