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A huge earthquake struck Ecuador on 16 April 2016, killing 660 people and injuring over 4,600. This was the largest disaster in the region since the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. More than 30,000 people are still living in temporary shelters in the country and homes, health centres and water systems were destroyed or badly damaged. The earthquake badly affected the heavily suburban quarters of Manabí and the rural areas of the Esmeraldas Province, All We Can made the decision to send an immediate grant to one of its humanitarian aid partners in the region to enable them to respond quickly.
All We Can’s ACT Alliance partner identified the main needs in these communities as food assistance, access to clean water, improved sanitation, protection for the most vulnerable and psychosocial care for traumatised survivors. Since the earthquake over 600 people have been provided with water systems, more than 800 have been identified to receive assistance with reconstructing their damaged homes and 22 local leaders from these communities have attended a training session to enable them to identify the needs of their community and run activities to improve the psychosocial wellbeing of those around them.
Maria Isabel Gracia was one of the earthquake survivors who received assistance from All We Can’s partner in Ecuador. Her already dysfunctional water storage system broke during the earthquake and she had been forced to collect salty water from the local lake:
“My name is Maria Isabel Gracia, I have four children and I live in Daule community in Ecuador. It is very difficult to express what happen that day [day of the earthquake], but I remember it was around 7 in the afternoon and I was taking care of the baby when the earthquake started. It was an indescribable experience. I could not move and I was terrified because I lost sight of my three children, my baby fell down from my arms and everybody was screaming all around me. My mother and father were laying down on the floor and I thought everybody was going to die. When it finished I realised that my house was affected, two interior walls had fallen down and many cracks were visible in the structure.
I felt alone, my husband was in shock and could not react. We decided to abandon the house and join the community in the front yard, we improvised some shelter at the edge of the road, we did not have any food at all, but after some hours many people started bringing relief aid for us.
I am very grateful because all my family is fine and nobody was injured during the earthquake. We would not have overcome this situation if we had not been assisted by generous people and organisations. The goods that we received are very useful for us. The container where we previously stored the water was dirty and so to drink safe water we had to buy it. We are happy to receive the water purification system because it is something we have never had before and it will contribute to my family’s wellbeing.”
A gift of £250 or more, could help us provide a fast response in an emergency, ensuring that people in the aftermath of a crisis, such as an earthquake, typhoon or conflict, can be met with basic provisions – food, shelter, clothing, medical assistance, water and sanitation.
Give today, so that we can reach those who will be in urgent need tomorrow.
Laura works for All We Can as the Communications Manager. She is also an internationally acclaimed photographer with a passion for women's rights. She is studying MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies in her spare time and lives with her husband Stephen in Essex.