The earthquake that struck the coast of Ecuador on April 16 left children orphaned, schools closed, and commerce at a standstill. People dependent on the hospitality industry, the backbone of the local economy, lost their livelihoods in an instant.
“Everything is uninhabitable in the hard-hit areas of Ecuador. Some towns have been completely abandoned,” said Gary Fairchild, Director of Global Disaster Response.
As the focus changes from relief to recovery in the following days, The Alliance National Church of Ecuador has evaluated the situation and will respond in six key ways.
1. Children at Risk ($50,000)
One of the most heartbreaking outcomes of any natural disaster are the children left orphaned. In the hard-hit towns of Ecuador many orphans are now under the care of relatives. Sadly, other children live on the streets and are at risk of trafficking.
Local churches and community members have been asked to identify the children in need of the greatest assistance. The national church will then contract with a well-known Christian children’s organization to secure properties to help these children. Operational costs for 18 months are included in the projected cost.
2. Work Tourism ($65,000)
While the hospitality industry has halted, the national church foresees an opportunity of a different kind of tourism. Volunteers need restaurants and hotels. Construction workers need tools and supplies. This “work tourism” can stimulate the local economy.
Currently, volunteer counselors live in tents on church property. The same is true for church volunteers working to clear rubble. They, plus the many engineers, carpenters, and government officials, need accommodations.
The church is looking to purchase three 4-bedroom homes that can be quickly repaired and used as a bed and breakfast. Past employees of the now-damaged hotels will be hired as staff. The proposed amount supports operational and administrative costs for 12 months.
3. Small business grants ($40,000)
Business experts from several Alliance churches will screen applicants applying for small business grants. The grants will allow community members the opportunity to make their businesses operational again.
4. Pastor Care ($10,000)
Pastors providing relief and counsel are overwhelmed. They need time to rest and recoup. They also need homes repaired and belongings replaced. Soon after the earthquake, one Alliance pastor left his house to check on relatives and his congregation. While away, bandits broke into his home and stole all household goods. Other pastors received major damage to their homes.
5. Repair Churches ($70,000)
Many churches along the coast sustained either moderate damage or damage so severe they will need to be completely rebuilt. The national church will first provide funds for churches needing moderate repairs. Priority will be given to church buildings which also house pastors and their families. Additional funding will be needed for churches in need of a complete rebuild.
6. Training ($25,000)
Ecuador is an active earthquake and volcano zone. The national church would like to take the first steps in establishing a national disaster management organization. The goal is for the organization to manage the current recovery project and once it’s finished, engage other churches in a Disaster Risk Reduction program.