After the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the northern coast of Ecuador, churches have been responding with relief and care to the worst earthquake to hit the region in 36 years.
At least 660 people were killed and over 4,600 injured in the quake on Saturday 16 April 2016, according to government reports. Six provinces have declared a state of emergency, as 720,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 22,000 people are still in emergency shelters, as 9,738 buildings are reported damaged or destroyed.
Right away, the churches called people to prayer and also collected non perishable food, water and clothing. These they sorted and bagged up for distribution to those in need in the local community. As well as this practical support, Rev. Deacon Jairo Chiran, of Episcopal Church Santiago the Apostle, La Pila, Manabi, gathered the local community for prayer a week after the earthquake. In an emotional celebration, they remembered the victims of the earthquake, according to Facebook posts by Deacon Jairo and Holy Trinity church (Iglesia Stma Trinidad) Libertad Peninsula.
Bishop Alfredo Morante, of Diocese Ecuador Litoral, has been visiting affected communities. “Our communities are mobilizing collection centers to alleviate the many needs … because, unfortunately, we do not have many resources. In fact, [I] delay[ed] my visit to the area, waiting for some funds, not wanting to come empty-handed, “said Bishop Morante.”I request all institutions of the Church that if they can help, do so. And have no doubt … that aid [will] reach those who need it […] As a diocese we want to help everyone we can, at this time there is no religion or political party, there are people in need.”
Secretary of Communications of the Diocese Litoral, Rev. Edgar Giraldo, says the Episcopal communities have responded to the tragedy and … three days after the earthquake … had sent nearly a ton of aid. “All have helped, but it is curious that as [much} local solidarity has come from the poorest communities, [who] have mobilized to seek food, clothing and medicines,” Giraldo said.
On April 27, the committee for emergency support of those affected by the earthquake in Ecuador, set up by Bishop Morante, defined the five areas of action to bring relief to the victims:
- Reconstruction and improvement of housing
- Food support
- Medical care and health
- Spiritual care
- School help
The team would be carrying out needs assessments. Many people are affected and they need your help so that these people can see the face of Jesus in our solidarity.
To assist [the diocese of] Ecuador Litoral, Episcopal Relief & Development is also seeking ways to offer assistance to Ecuador Central, in places severely affected such as El Paraíso de Papusa, reported Episcopal News Service.
Please continue to pray for the people of Ecuador whose lives have been quite literally turned upside down by the recent earthquake. We give thanks for the immediate response that the local church was able to bring to those around them, both relief and care. We pray that there will be sustained support for the church to continue to respond to the needs of those affected. We pray also for all who are leading and coordinating the response, that those most in need get all the support they need.