On Saturday, April 16, 2016 Ecuador experienced an earthquake measuring 7.8 one of the strongest earthquakes in its history. As of Tuesday, April 19 there have been 507 reported deaths with many still buried under the rubble. Thousands have been injured and left homeless. Damages to the Manabí Province are extensive with devastation especially in the towns at the epicenter, which are about 6 hours from Oasis. They continue to experience aftershocks.
For context, Manabí is a coastal province filled with fishing villages. Puerto Lopez, the nearest large town, is a town of fishermen. The people make their living from fishing, some agriculture and in certain areas from tourism. The people in the villages are humble, generations of fishermen in their families. Fishing is not work, it’s a way of life. The ocean provides for them so they are deeply affected by the cycles of nature. This earthquake is devastating on a material level but psychologically the people are affected; many are still in shock and too many others are grieving the loss of loved ones. This will have repercussions for years not only in Manabí but also throughout Ecuador.
THE AFFECT ON OASIS
Salango, the small town nearest to our property, had some damage to storefronts and roads. The people are still nervous because the tides have been higher than normal and because there are still aftershocks. From Manta to Salango, people are sleeping out doors because their homes have been destroyed or because they fear being in the buildings.
We are only 1.5 hours from Manta which had massive destruction in some areas and we are about six hours from the epicenter. We heard about friends in Manta whose house was destroyed but they escaped with their lives. We hope to be able to help them once the roads are cleared.
All things considered, Oasis, our retreat center, escaped catastrophic damage. However, our cistern, which holds water for us and for our neighbors, was damaged and is leaking water. Access to water in these kinds of circumstances is critical. The street that forms the entrance to Oasis suffered breaks and breaches making traveling up to our property difficult and this must be repaired. There is also an area of our land that collapsed leaving a gaping hole in the earth. This often happens with the movement of the earth during an earthquake. We will need to fill this especially because there are children in the area. Tito, our maestro, lost some of his fruit trees and Anita nearby had her water line cut and is using water from our cistern now. These are our priorities now. We are thankful that no one was seriously injured or that lives were not lost.
My husband Bolivar is in Ecuador and witnessed the event himself in Puerto Lopez. He was thrown to the ground and suffered a gash on his leg and a pulled back muscle. But as he claims, the memory of this earthquake will forever stay with him. During this time he is focused on paying for food for our neighbors who have no access to banks now and providing a safe haven high on our hill should the ocean become a hazard.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Right now we need to be able to pay our workers to do the repairs at Oasis and in turn this provides them cash to be able to buy food for their families and make their own repairs. They are proud and do not want charity, they want to earn their wages. Oasis has a community fund that we use for community services, donations to Salango for social works and for emergencies for our neighbors. We recently paid for medical care for one of our workers young daughters who fell ill, as an example.
Please donate what you can to the Oasis Community Fund. Every dime that is donated finds its way to these families and to Salango to make the repairs in the town. With enough funds we will also be able to help our friends in Manta re-establish themselves after this catastrophe. We start helping with our neighbors where we can have the greatest impact.
MEET OUR NEIGHBORS
I'd like you to meet and watch our artisans, our neighbors, and families that we support in Ecuador, at Oasis and in other areas. You should know whose lives you are touching with your help.
Many thanks for your generosity and your prayers in this very critical time. On behalf of our Ecuadorian family, deep gratitude.