To help plan MCC’s response to the earthquakes in Ecuador, we have sent disaster response coordinator David Shenk to the country in consultation with Rosedale Mennonite Missions.
Shenk is working with local partner Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Ecuatoriana (IEME) to assess the need and help plan the response. Donate online to support our response.
The earthquakes on April 16th and 20th killed 660 people, and damaged or destroyed approximately 8,000 buildings. There are 22,800 people now living in shelters.
Shenk is in Manabi Province, which is home to multiple IEME congregations and was severely damaged by the earthquake. This is some of what he’s seen so far:
“Youth from Portoviejo church helping clear away rubble that fell from a new church building under construction when the earthquake hit. I was very impressed by the youths’ active involvement in helping out, they seemed to show up at the drop of a hat, ready to help out. I remember one youth in particular, Christian, who pulled his mother out of their house and then went back to the centre of Portoviejo at 3:30a.m. the night of the quake to help pull people from the rubble before rescue teams arrived. The Portoviejo and Manta churches are organized through small groups around the city and through those groups were able to personally hand out hundreds of food rations to families in need in the first few days.”
“Digna Palma, left, is a member at La Paz church in Manta. She described how she hung onto this door frame during the earthquake while the walls of her house fell around her. Her house is uninhabitable and reduced to rubble. Her family had also suffered through two severe floods over the past 15 years. Jose Tumbaco, right, is pastor of La Paz church.”
“The centre of Portoviejo, which is the city’s and province’s economic hub, was hit very hard. There was about a 61-block area that we walked around where a high percentage of buildings were either destroyed or will need to be demolished. If the earthquake had happened during the week, during the work day, we would almost certainly be talking about thousands of deaths. Luckily, many of the offices, banks, government buildings and businesses were empty at 7p.m. on Saturday and there weren’t as many people out on the streets which are normally bustling during the day.”
The CNT telephone company in downtown Portoviejo, capital of Manabi Province.
“This is what´s left of the home of a Mennonite family in Manta who attend Casa de Oracion Church. In total, we have counted 17 Mennonite families in Manta alone whose homes have been destroyed or damaged to differing degrees. Several families in Portoviejo have also lost homes or businesses. Two Mennonite church buildings in Manta have also suffered some minor structural damage.
“The road to recovery and rebuilding is long, but people are incredibly resilient, have gigantic faith and are hopeful.”