I just want to give an initial, and possibly scattered report on what is happening currently from our point of view collaborating with IPEE (The Covenant Church of Ecuador) in the earthquake relief efforts in the last couple of days.
The day and a half after the earthquake occurred seemed like a dream. Erik and I had felt the shaking in our house, but no damage was done. We were hearing vague initial reports of the damage elsewhere and the casualties, but our everyday lives remained the same. Driving into Quito on Sunday there was almost no sign that anything had happened and life seemingly went on as usual.
However, the rubber has definitely hit the road and the realities are hitting now that we are in touch with our colleagues and brothers and sisters here in Ecuador. The most recent data states that there are over 400 deaths (with the number sure to rise) and thousands injured all along the coastal region of the country. Infrastructure has collapsed, especially water and electric services, as well as roads to access some of these communities.
It is surreal to be in meetings these days strategizing about he best way to provide relief, resources, and solidarity to those who are suffering. The logistics are very complicated considering all of the complex details involved.
Supplies need to be gathered from all over the country, people who are adequately trained need to be mobilized, permissions need to be granted to access areas currently controlled by the military.
On top of that, it is important to prioritize the absolute necessities of the moment of things that people are desperate for. One of these considerations is having the discernment of whether we as a church should even send out a huge convoy in these days. Dozens of NGOs and large global organizations like the Red Cross are much more equipped to provide the first response in a natural disaster such as this. The ministry of health sent out a public service announcement last night discouraging lay people from going to try and help because there are already reports of outsiders who have fallen ill from the dangerous conditions in the affected areas. Those who went to help are now taking the resources meant for those affected primarily from the earthquake. It is a common, but unfortunate reality after many natural disasters like this.
For now, we are trying to manage physical and financial donations, receive training to care for people with post traumatic stress, and reaching communities who have yet to receive any assistance. We are grateful to have the providential presence of our Latin America Regional Coordinators, Pia and Eugenio Restrepo here who have provided great support, care, and even have jumped into crisis training for those of us who need it.
Emotions are running high, especially for those who have personal friends and family who they know have been heavily affected.
Please, please be in prayer for all that is happening in this country. For those who are deeply suffering, and also for those who are trying to provide help in the best way possible. This is a long road ahead and we anticipate weeks, months, and years of recovery from this incident.
Also, if you’d like to help financially, we ask that you do so through Covenant World Relief by clicking HERE.
Strategy meeting with IPEE leaders