One year on from the earthquake that devastated the north-east coast of Ecuador, Latin Link is helping in the reconstruction programme.
Just over a year ago, Ecuador was hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. About 660 people died, 25,000 were injured, and many tens of thousands were made homeless.
Since then, a rebuilding programme has been in place. Pedernales, a town just 17km from the epicentre of the quake, was largely flattened. Gradually, however, homes and buildings are springing up in the place of ruins. Latin Link workers have been involved in raising funds towards targeted construction work, and now a Latin Link Step team sent from Britain and Ireland has arrived to lend a practical hand.
‘We are so grateful for the financial donations that have been sent from the UK,’ says Katy Griggs, leader of the Latin Link Ecuador team. ‘By channelling them through the Vida en Abundancia (Life in Abundance) organisation that we partner with, we have been able to maximise the funds and ensure that the money has helped some of the people most in need.’
Some of the examples of this were apparent when Katy recently visited Pedernales. ‘I was able to link up with Anita and her sister María, who are members of Cristo Salva church, which we partner with. Together we visited their 85-year-old mother, who is now living in her new home built since the earthquake.’
The church building of Cristo Salva did not escape the devastation. For a while after the earthquake, all that marked the site of the church was a hastily erected tarpaulin and a gazebo. But now the church, which is led by Pastor Jesús, is being rebuilt on a spacious new site on the outskirts of town.
The Step team of seven young people from the UK have recently arrived in Pedernales, after almost two months in Colombia. They are spending eight weeks helping in the renovation of the Iglesia Alianza church and the construction of a house for the pastor.
‘It is so wonderful to have this team at this time,’ says Katy. ‘We look forward to the building work having renewed impetus through their efforts.’
Latin Link’s Short Term Coordinator for Ecuador, Andrés Stäubli, who has facilitated setting up the Step team’s work, comments: ‘We are very excited to have this Step team here. Having read about the work they did in their time in Colombia, I am certain that they are going to make a significant contribution not just to the practical construction efforts, but also to the spiritual and social life of the community here.’
To catch the latest from the Step team, visit the Colombia-Ecuador Step team page.