May 3, 2016: PMM Missionary Mariana Lopez recently provided her personal account of the Ecuador earthquake damage and recovery issues, stating “On 16 April, at 7:57 pm, the coast of Ecuador was hit by a mega earthquake of 7.8 degrees on the Richter scale that devastated large areas of the provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas, leaving thousands of families homeless. The death toll reached 656 and injured were 12,492 at present but there are yet places of strong decomposition odor indicating that the death total will continue to increase.
Fanny Cedeno, a director of Alfalit in Manabi Province (similar to our states) stated that the living conditions of rural villages around Manta are terrible. Visiting areas of Alfalit literacy centers in La Pila, Jaramijo, Los Esteros, Tarqui, Calderon, Sauces, San Mateo, Santa Rosa, Santa Marianita, Aromo and La Aurora, she saw entire families living in the streets because their homes are no more. Exposed to hot sun and rain in the daytime, and rain and coolness at night, they have no place of refuge. High winds add to their troubles, as do aftershocks of 6.3 strength. They fear thieves too, who are looting the ruins.
Fanny has found boys and girls from our preschools who are orphaned or are in a hospital with serious fractures, while others have died. Some of our students are refugees in homes that have not been damaged, living with a neighbor or a relative.
Fanny feels sad, when she communicates with us she says: “this looks like the end of the world”. She sees people in the streets crying for help, for water and food. She has received news of facilitators (teachers) and students who have lost one of their loved ones or who have been living in the streets.
There is a big problem of poor health, contamination and pollution in the environment due to the decomposition of corpses that has accelerated due to the high temperatures of the Ecuadorian coast. And, demolition of condemned houses also pollutes the air. This helps the spread of diseases. Already, there are cases of the flue (AH1N1) and Chikungunya and Zika epidemics are feared.
Mariana further stated, “Top of FormWe have a small fund which has been a huge help in these times of such pain and suffering. We have delivered food, water, personal hygiene supplies, diapers, baby milk, medicines, tents, tarpaulins, mosquito netting and mattresses; but it was little compared to what is needed. Words cannot tell the story. A few pictures cannot tell the story. Pedernales is not a small village. And it is almost a heap of rubble, destroyed. It’s difficult for help to arrive in this area because the roads have been destroyed. The banking system is basically closed so money cannot be withdrawn and environmental pollution is strong. These families are also very needy because they have lost their homes and their jobs, and most have nowhere to go. The fishermen haven’t been able to leave to fish because there is hardly any food and they don’t have the provisions they need to take with them to fish. All the people are desperate because they don’t have jobs.
Every day we receive news of people who are not receiving aid from the government or any other organization because they are focusing their attention on the larger towns. To make it worse, people who live in small surrounding villages have received nothing. Some are cooking with firewood or coal because they don’t have a kitchen. Fifteen days after the earthquake they are still sleeping on the ground because they don’t have mattresses. All they have to eat is what other people are sharing with them.
There is a great need in the areas affected by the earthquake. Donations and other support will be needed for a long time because thousands have been left without a place to live and without any opportunity to find work. Reconstruction won’t be easy in an economy as weak as we have in Ecuador today.
In every place we have visited so far, we are carrying the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. The people’s voices, upon hearing that people around the world are praying for them, will crack and their eyes become filled with tears.
We are praying that God will continue to provide by sending help to the thousands who are so needy. The funds that we had were disbursed rapidly but we know that God will supply more.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked, and you clothed Me; sick, and you visited me “Matt. 25: 35-26.
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Dear friends and brethren who support the ministry in Pedernales,
Greetings from the middle of the world! During the last three weeks there have been several quakes in Quito and in different cities of Ecuador. We pray for safety and protection from God to all of us here and in different countries where there have also been earthquakes lately. The Lord is calling our attention.
I want to share some news of Pedernales. Last month I spent more than two weeks over there, sharing with people and knowing more about their situation after the earthquake.
I was told so many stories about how people lived that terrible tragedy. There is still much fear and trauma, but through it all, they are trying to rebuild their lives and daily activities. We pray for healing, provision and above all for the Lord to touch people ́s hearts since there are many who know the Gospel of Salvation however they don ́t want to surrender to the Lord.
During this last trip we got to her home. We were amazed to see where she lives, almost reaching the top of a mountain 2 hours away from Pedernales. It has neither electricity nor any basic service. She takes water from a river, all over the mountain, to her house. The roof of her house fell during the earthquake.
Our aim was to help her build a chicken coop so she can raise chickens and thus have a livelihood. We were pleased to see that with the funds we sent her the first days of August, she had built the chicken coop and put the tin roof with her own hands.
There is no electricity nor any basic service in Mariana ́s house nor in Cheve which is the little village closer to her house (one hour away).
There are adults who want to learn to read and write in that town, but due to the lack of electricity they cannot go to school at night, that is when the teacher can dedicate some time to teach.
In the coming months we will continue visiting and helping people in Cheve.
We also helped Ms. Elsa Cheme in Pedernales. We gave her some funds to put a roof so that she and her family can have a place to live after the earthquake. She is learning to read and write in the literacy school that was opened in Pedernales.
In San Mateo which is a fishermen town close to Manta, tables, chairs and tents were given to the literacy and basic education school. The preeschoolers also received tables and chairs. There are about sixty people (preschoolers, young people and adults) who attend that school.
We are also supporting teachers of schools in rural areas. The school we see in this photograph below is “unidocente” which means that there is one teacher for all ages and grades. We are helping them with books, training, technical advice and spiritual support.
With regards to the kids in Pedernales, there is a small group that is receiving classes in the afternoons in a neighborhood further north from where our school was. The young lady who is volunteering is teaching responsibly.
We are thinking that the best option, for now, is to teach the kids in different neighborhoods. One of the teachers that was working with the kids before the earthquake, is willing to help again and she is thinking of doing it in the tent where she is living.
Right now it is hard for the parents to send the kids to the place where our school was, so the best will be to have different groups in different places.
Dear brethren, thank you so much for your prayers, support and love for Ecuador and the needy in this country.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
Estuardo & Mariana
September 14, 2016
In the love of Christ,